Trump Waives Environmental Laws for Wall Prototype

August 3, 2017

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:

  1. The National Environmental Policy Act
  2. Endangered Species Act Federal Water Pollution Control Act
  3. National Historic Preservation Act
  4. Migratory Bird Treaty Act
  5. Migratory Bird Conservation Act
  6. Clean Air Act
  7. Archeological Resources Protection Act
  8. Paleontological Resources Preservation Act
  9. National Trails System Act
  10. Federal Cave Resources Protection Act
  11. Safe Drinking Water Act
  12. Noise Control Act
  13. Solid Waste Disposal Act
  14. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
  15. Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act
  16. Antiquities Act
  17. Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act
  18. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
  19. Farmland Protection Policy
  20. Wilderness Act
  21. Coastal Zone Management Act
  22. Federal Land Policy and Management Act
  23. National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act
  24. National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act
  25. National Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956
  26. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
  27. Wild Horse and Burro Act
  28. Otay Mountain Wilderness Act of 1999
  29. Title I of the California Desert Protection Act
  30. Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899
  31. Eagle Protection Act
  32. Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
  33. American Indian Religious Freedom Act
  34. Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Earlier legal activity from environmental groups could have held up the prototype test construction.