Feds push forward 12-mile border fence project in San Diego

SAN DIEGO -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Friday it has issued a waiver to expedite the replacement of 12.5 miles of fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego County.

DHS originally awarded the fence replacement contract to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in December. Department officials say the improvements to the bollard-style fencing, which will begin at the eastern end of Border Field State Park, will help curb illegal immigration into San Diego.

Officials cited section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 in the waiver, which grants DHS the authority to enhance border barriers if it will deter illegal immigration in high traffic areas. The waiver was published Thursday in the Federal Register.

"Tactical infrastructure, when combined with the appropriate technology and personnel, significantly reduces the amount of illegal border entries and enhances the Border Patrol's ability to secure the border," DHS said in a statement.

According to DHS officials, federal immigration authorities have apprehended more than 18,500 illegal immigrants in the San Diego area since fiscal year 2019 began Oct. 1, 2018, an increase of more than 69 percent over this time last year.

On Wednesday, Customs and Border Patrol agent Rodney Scott posted a photo on Instagram of a section of the border barrier that had fallen over. The barrier section, comprised primarily of rusted metal panels, is located in Campo in eastern San Diego County.

"This is proof we need to update this aging infrastructure," Scott said in the post's caption.

DHS officials did not disclose when the fence replacement would begin or how long it is expected to take.

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