McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The redirection of $3.6 billion of military construction funds to build 175 miles of border wall along the Southwest will provide money to construct segments of President Trump’s wall in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The transfer of funds, which was revealed in a Sept. 3 memo from Defense Secretary Mark Esper, will be used to “deter illegal entry, increase the vanishing time of those illegally crossing the border and channel migrants to ports of entry,” Esper wrote.
Military projects that had been slated in 23 states, 19 countries and three U.S. territories would be affected by the diversion of these funds.
Here is a breakdown of where new wall will be built with this money:
Yuma, Arizona, border wall
The most border wall segments from these funds will be constructed near Yuma, Arizona — 67 total miles, as part of four different projects. This includes replacing 31 miles of barrier through the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, and building 31 miles of wall through the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range in the San Cristobal Valley of the Sonoran Desert.
These areas are just west of the Organ Pipe National Monument, where wall construction began last week.
Laredo, Texas, to be walled off
More than $1.2 billion from these funds will be used to construct 52 miles around Laredo, Texas, in South Texas. The Laredo-area border wall would comprise the largest single span of wall to be paid for by diverted funds, beginning at the Laredo-Columbia Port of Entry, and spanning 52 miles to Eagle Pass, Texas. And this span of wall would be built on private lands.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, the vice chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security whose district includes Laredo, responded to the fund transfer late Tuesday by calling it: “unacceptable,” “irresponsible,” and “harmful.”
The money for the wall would in part come from a cut of $354 million in projects slated to Joint Base San Antonio, said Cuellar, whose district also includes San Antonio.
“This is not reprogramming, this is unilaterally cutting funds that were approved by the House and the Senate. The $354 million cut would negatively impact projects at Joint Base San Antonio, such as air traffic control towers, dormitories, and dining halls, as well as vital renovations and training facilities nationwide,” Cuellar said in a statement. “As a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I worked hard to help build a budget that meets our strategic military needs and it is irresponsible and harmful to eliminate these funds.”
U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, whose Rio Grande Valley district is any day expecting construction to begin on miles of border wall, which was funded by other means, responded to this new directive by saying: “President Trump ignores facts for his fantasy of building an ineffective, futile wall along our southern border. He is literally taking resources from our military, and disaster relief in order to construct this wasteful project. These acts are reckless and endanger the lives of our nation’s service members and potential victims of natural disasters.”
New Mexico border barriers
More than 23 miles of barrier will be replaced in Hidalgo and Luna Counties of New Mexico, at a cost of $476 million. Five miles will be built east of the New Mexico/Arizona border, and 20 miles will be built near the Columbus Port of Entry.
El Paso wall
At least 12 new miles of border barrier is to be built near El Paso, which will cost $164 million, the memo said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will build 6.5 miles of border wall in the San Diego area at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry at a cost of $67 million.
Three miles of new border wall is to be built near the Tecate Port of Entry, which will cost $57 million.
And 13 miles of border wall is to be built near the Calexico Port of Entry, at a cost of $306 million, the memo said.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@Border Report.com.