This marks the first time the government has transferred land on an emergency basis to build border barriers. Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Casey Hammond said Wednesday that "extraordinary measures must be taken to preserve values that would otherwise be lost" at the southern border.
The announcement comes as President Donald Trump visited a newly completed section of the border wall in California. Trump's signature campaign promise was to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. He promised Mexico would pay for it, but he is instead using billions in Defense Department money.