The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a waiver for a border wall prototype this week, citing its authority under a 2005 law to set aside any laws and regulations when necessary for border infrastructure.
Trump's actions are legal under section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), which allows DHS to "take such actions as may be necessary to install additional physical barriers and roads (including the removal of obstacles to detection of illegal entrants) in the vicinity of the United States border to deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry into the United States."
IIRIRA also grants the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to waive all legal requirements "to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads authorized by section 102 of IRIRA."
The order, Determination Pursuant to Section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996,as Amended, was signed by then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.
The waiver affects the 15 miles of security border in the San Diego sector which starts at the Pacific Ocean and extends eastward to Border Monument 251.
The blanket release allows contractors to ignore laws and regulations covered by 34 specific Acts of Congress. They are:
- The National Environmental Policy Act
- Endangered Species Act Federal Water Pollution Control Act
- National Historic Preservation Act
- Migratory Bird Treaty Act
- Migratory Bird Conservation Act
- Clean Air Act
- Archeological Resources Protection Act
- Paleontological Resources Preservation Act
- National Trails System Act
- Federal Cave Resources Protection Act
- Safe Drinking Water Act
- Noise Control Act
- Solid Waste Disposal Act
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
- Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act
- Antiquities Act
- Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act
- Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
- Farmland Protection Policy
- Wilderness Act
- Coastal Zone Management Act
- Federal Land Policy and Management Act
- National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act
- National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act
- National Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956
- Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
- Wild Horse and Burro Act
- Otay Mountain Wilderness Act of 1999
- Title I of the California Desert Protection Act
- Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899
- Eagle Protection Act
- Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
- American Indian Religious Freedom Act
- Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Earlier legal activity from environmental groups could have held up the prototype test construction.