DHS chief takes first steps to building a border wall
- By Mark Rockwell
- Feb 21, 2017
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told top DHS officials to get moving on the initiatives laid out in President Donald Trump's executive orders.
In a Feb. 20 memo, Kelly outlined for the heads of DHS bureaus the shifts in border enforcement and detention of undocumented immigrants, and he offered some of the first detail on plans for a wall spanning the U.S.-Mexico border.
The memo also calls for Customs and Border Protection to hire 5,000 new border patrol agents and 500 Air and Marine Operations agents/officers.
In a Feb. 21 fact sheet about Kelly's memo, DHS said its initial border barrier construction efforts will center on locations near El Paso, Texas, Tucson, Ariz., and El Centro, Calif.
In those locations DHS said it will "build a wall in areas where the fence or old brittle landing-mat fencing are no longer effective."
The Border Patrol, said DHS, is also in the middle of identifying priority areas where CBP "can build a wall or similar physical barrier on the border where it currently does not exist."
In his memo, Kelly advised Acting Undersecretary for Management Chip Fulghum to consult with Acting CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to immediately begin planning, design, construction and maintenance of a wall under current law.
That planning, he said, should include "materials originating in the United States." Those materials, he said, should include "lighting, technology (including sensors), as well as patrol and access roads, along the border with Mexico in the most appropriate locations."
Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.
Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.
Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.
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