Chertoff Fast-Tracks Fences; Waivers Shield 470 Miles from Green Lawsuits

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff yesterday issued waivers for about 60 sections of the U.S.-Mexico border, granting his agency authority to build fences without worrying about environmental lawsuits and putting them on track to meet President Bush's targets for fencing.

The waivers cover about 470 miles of the border where the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has planned to build pedestrian fences, vehicle barriers and the backup infrastructure such as roads and towers needed to combat illegal entry.

"I employed this authority to ensure that these projects will proceed without unnecessary delays caused by administrative processes or potential litigation. These waivers should cover the remainder of additional fence construction that will be accomplished in 2008," Mr. Chertoff said.

He and congressional supporters of border fencing say environmental restrictions could have further delayed construction, aiding illegal immigration, which they say is often worse for the environment than the barriers themselves.

DHS also granted waivers in Hidalgo County, Texas, which will help that county build levees and barriers that will both support flood-control efforts and provide a blockade against illegal immigration. …