05:24 PM

For Immediate Release

DHS Issues Second Waiver for San Diego Border Wall Construction

WASHINGTON (February 8, 2019) – The Department of Homeland Security has announced today a second waiver of 32 environmental, health and safety laws in order to build additional segments of border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego. This latest waiver allows for construction replacing 12.4 miles of existing “secondary wall” with 30-foot-tall steel bollard fence, as well as an additional 1.6 miles of new secondary wall. The new secondary wall will start around the existing prototype site and head eastward up Otay Mountain.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:

“It comes as no surprise that the Trump administration continues to bypass laws established to keep our communities and wildlife safe to further their dangerous border security agenda. Waiving these laws deprives the people and wildlife living in the region of protections they deserve. Defenders continues to challenge the constitutionality of these waivers, which repudiate the rule of law in this nation.”


  • Section 102 of the 2005 REAL ID Act gave the Secretary of Homeland Security unprecedented power to waive any federal, state, or local law to construct roads and barriers along the border. This waiver has already been invoked ten times under both the Trump and George W. Bush administrations to exempt the department from nearly 50 environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, to construct roads and barriers.
  • Construction on sections of the border in Texas is already underway. Bulldozers are beginning to break ground on the El Morillo Banco tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Hidalgo County. The wall would also cut through and around the National Butterfly Center, Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park and the La Lomita Chapel, as well as a number of private properties. Customs and Border Protection and Department of Homeland Security staff have arrived at the National Butterfly Center with vehicles and equipment to begin tree removal and excavation. Construction contracts were awarded for this length of wall in the Lower Rio Grande Valley back in November 2018.
  • More than 600 miles of border wall and barriers have been constructed in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In California, border barriers affect more than a dozen rare species, including the endangered arroyo toad and Quino checkerspot butterfly. Any extension of the border wall would bisect the Tijuana River that meanders through the locally protected Marron Valley and the federally protected Jacumba Wilderness area, cutting off important migration routes for the highly endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep and jeopardizing recovery efforts for that species. In Texas, a wall will block people and animals from access to the Rio Grande, an important water source for communities and wildlife alike. Species like the jaguar and Mexican gray wolf depend on borderland habitat for survival. Blocking borderlands wildlife corridors would severely affect their chances of recovery.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.