FILE - In this March 31, 2017 file photo, Columbus Elementary School students walk towards the U.S. port of entry on the border with Puerto Palomas, Mexico, after attending school in Columbus, N.M. The Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday, April 10, 2019, they have awarded contracts totaling nearly $1 billion for removal and replacement of vehicle fencing with pedestrian fencing along two sections of the U.S.-Mexico border. Fourty-six miles of bollard-style barrier will be installed near Columbus, N.M, and 11 miles of bollard-type barrier will be installed in a Border Patrol sector centered on Yuma, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)
The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded contracts totaling nearly $1 billion to replace short barriers with tall fences along two sections of the U.S.-Mexico border.
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The Corps of Engineers said in a statement Wednesday that 46 miles (74 kilometers) of fencing will be installed near Columbus, New Mexico, and 11 miles (18 kilometers) will be installed near Yuma, Arizona.
The fencing in New Mexico will be installed by SLSCo. of Galveston, Texas, which got a $789 million contract. Barnard Construction Co. Inc., of Bozeman, Montana, was awarded a $187 million contract for the other work.
The contractors will remove waist-length fencing, known as vehicle barriers, and replace it with tall fencing that will go up to 30-feet high in New Mexico. The new fencing is similar to what's already in place in large parts of the border.
The Corps said the fencing will help "impede and deny illegal border crossings and smuggling of drugs and humans."
The Department of Homeland Security has not responded to an inquiry for comment.
Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the additional fencing will sever a known corridor for a wide range of species. "It's hard to explain just how much the wall impacts the entire ecosystem," Jordahl said.