Pentagon surveying sites for new border wall segments

The Pentagon has begun surveying sites along the southern border to put up new physical barriers, as the administration moves forward with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE's border wall.

The new construction will be funded by $1 billion recently transferred by the Pentagon under Trump’s national emergency declaration and could begin by late May if the Department of Homeland Security issues environmental waivers, which would expedite construction, according to CNN.

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A spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers confirmed to The Hill that teams of experts and engineers are looking at sites in Yuma, Ariz., and the New Mexico portion of the El Paso sector, which also includes Texas.

Each assessment will reportedly take roughly seven days and will likely be followed up in April by contracts being sent to builders and formal engineering surveys, CNN reported.

The Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson did not confirm the timing of the projects.

The construction is part of an additional 57 miles of fencing being placed along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as improvements to roads and other measures in the region. The Pentagon announced its approval of the $1 billion transfer this week and said it will direct the funds toward building an 18-foot-high fencing along the Yuma and El Paso sections of the border.

Senate Democrats came out swinging against the money transfer this week, writing in a letter to acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January MORE that they "have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military." 

Trump has ramped up pressure against Democrats to support his immigration policies, highlighting a rise in border crossings to support his claim that the country is facing a national emergency.

Updated at 10:10 a.m. on Friday.