Pentagon approves $1bn for Trump’s border wall as Congress set to vote on emergency declaration

Democrat senators ‘strongly object’ to funding in letter to defence secretary

The Pentagon has authorised army engineers to begin construction of additional fencing on the US-Mexico border, diverting an initial $1bn after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to bypass Congress on the matter.

The army would begin planning and building 57 miles of 18-foot-high fencing in Yuma, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas, according to a statement by acting defence secretary Patrick Shanahan.

Mr Trump declared the emergency on 15 February after Congress refused his request for $5.7bn (£4.4bn). The emergency allows him to divert up to $3.6bn (£2.75bn) from other military construction projects.

The Pentagon said the money would support the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection. The funding would also go towards installing lighting and constructing roads.

Mr Shanahan said the engineers’ focus would be on blocking “drug-smuggling corridors”.

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