The Pentagon notified Congress late Monday that it authorized the transfer of up to $1 billion to build 57 miles (91 km) of "pedestrian fencing" along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The fencing will be 18 feet (5m) high and will be erected in the Yuma and El Paso sectors. The funds will also cover road improvements and new lights. President Trump has called the situation at the southern border a "crisis" and insists a physical barrier is needed to stop criminals crossing into the US. The border emergency declaration would allow the president to shift an additional $3.6 billion from military construction projects to work on a barrier along the southwest boundary. Patrick M. Shanahan, the acting Secretary of Defense, announced that the funds will be used to support the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol. He authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to begin its planning and execution. Democrats have protested against the move.
In a letter to Shanahan on Monday, senators led by Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Dick Durbin of Illinois said they had “serious concerns that the department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military.” The Pentagon previously gave Congress a list that included $12.8 billion of construction projects for which it said funds could be redirected for construction along the US-Mexico border.