Trump administration fast-tracks replacement of California border wall section

(USA TODAY) — President Donald Trump’s administration is waiving a list of laws and regulations to speed up the construction of a two-mile segment of border wall in Calexico, replacing a stretch of wall that was built in the 1990s.

The Department of Homeland Security issued the waiver of federal laws on Tuesday, saying it’s an “area of high illegal entry” and that replacing the outdated barrier is a high priority.

The department said in a notice published in the Federal Register that the existing 14-foot fencing will be replaced with an 18-to-25-foot barrier “that employs a more operationally effective design.”

The Trump administration is waiving 28 federal laws, ranging from the Clean Air Act to the National Environmental Policy Act, to expedite the project.

That decision prompted criticism from the Sierra Club, which said rolling back safeguards that protect public health and the environment is wrong.

“People in Calexico now are being denied the protections afforded to them by really important laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act,” said Dan Millis, a campaign organizer for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter in Tucson, Ariz. “Somehow it’s OK for the people in Calexico to be excluded from these protections?”

Millis said it’s irresponsible for the Trump administration to “ignore this nation’s most effective laws to deliver an extremist agenda.”

The administration has similarly waived 37 laws and regulations to build prototypes of Trump’s planned border wall and replace existing infrastructure along a 15-mile stretch of the border near San Diego.

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