Published: Sat, January 18, 2020
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

DHS seeks Pentagon funds for 270 miles of border wall

DHS seeks Pentagon funds for 270 miles of border wall

The request comes amid sharp divisions about the border wall between President Donald Trump and members of Congress who have opposed the use of military funding for the construction.

The Pentagon will take about two weeks to put the request through an assessment involving the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Army Secretary, Defense Department lawyers and the Joint Staff and the Comptroller, the latter of which will assess where funds can be found to support additional construction, added the official.

The defense officials said that a year ago counternarcotics funding was authorized for use to construct 129 miles of border reinforcement. The officials who informed the reporters on condition of anonymity did not make any estimates.

Earlier this week, in addressing unconfirmed reports about money being transferred by the DoD to fund the wall, Esper said the Pentagon is ready to provide financial support to the barrier.

According to multiple media reports this week, Trump plans to divert $7.2 billion (£5.5 billion) from military construction and other projects to build his wall, far more than the $1.375 billion for the barrier Congress allotted in a spending bill passed a year ago.

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So far, very little progress has been made on the southern border with only 83 miles of the barrier having been constructed to replace the old fences. Since his election campaign, he has spoken about building a "great handsome wall" between the United States and Mexico. The administration will take $3.5 billion from the Department of Defence's counterdrug program, while another $3.7 billion from military construction funding. In 2019, the White House reportedly diverted funds worth $2.5 billion from counternarcotics and $3.6 billion from military construction funding for Trump's ambitious project. Asked whether that meant supporting DHS financially, he said, "If that's what it takes, we prepared to support".

For the 2019-2020 school year, Collegeboard.org estimated that the average U.S. college student spends an estimated $21,950 for four years of in-state tuition with room and board included. All together, the officials said, they expect to complete 400 to 500 miles of border construction by the end of this year.

Last year Trump was forced to settle for just $1.4 billion in wall funding following the longest government shutdown in history.

The officials also told the news agency that the money allocated for countering drug smuggling can be used at the border since Homeland Security, which oversees the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has certified it as a drug-smuggling corridor. As of January 13, according to Army Corps of Engineers figures, about $3 billion of that has been awarded for contracts to build 200 miles of barriers.

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