DHS Immigration Memos and Records Concerning the Schedule for Border Wall Construction

Records from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) containing a heavily redacted schedule of border wall plans, meeting agendas for former DHS Secretary John Kelly, and communications between agency officials regarding a border report.


In these records

Page 745: Timeline of “Actions/Milestones” for a wall at the southwest U.S. border. The timeline, which spans January to June 2017, involves soliciting wall prototypes and awarding contracts for construction. 

Pages 820–823: A Dec. 7, 2016, agenda for a “U.S.-Mexico CEO Dialogue: Border Optimization Working Group.” Priorities for the meeting included coordination on border infrastructure, cargo inspection, trade, and building future regulatory frameworks. 

Pages 839–851: Memorandum dated Feb. 17, 2017, from then–DHS Secretary John Kelly, implementing President Donald Trump’s executive order for the construction of a border wall. The order, titled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” is also referred to as Presidential Executive Order 13767

Pages 1,062–1,066: An agenda dated March 6, 2017, for a “Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) Meeting.” The meeting included updates from high-ranking DHS officials regarding immigration. Secretary Kelly and then–DHS Chief of Staff Kirstjen Nielsen were among the expected participants. 

This agenda also includes talking points on sanctuary cities, wall construction, and communication efforts with the Tohono O’odham Nation, a group that vocalized opposition to a border wall.

Pages 1,171–1,830: A January 1993 report titled “Systematic Analysis of the Southwest Border Volume 1,” which was prepared by the now-dissolved Immigration and Naturalization Service. 

Pages 864–881: An email thread from late 2016 about a DHS border report. 

Sept. 14, 2016: An unidentified DHS official emailed fellow DHS officials Andrew Kuepper and Marc Rosenblum an article titled “Build the Wall” by Robert Samuelson: “I ran across the article and thought it raised some points we don’t often see in the media. I’m sharing not as an endorsement or rejection of those points, but purely out of academic interest.”

Rosenblum replied the same day; his email was heavily redacted

Nov. 9, 2016: A month and a half later, the official revived the correspondence with Rosenblum and Kuepper: “I thought I would dust this email off and re-engage given the election results last night. I guess we are in the situation now where we have to deal with it head on.”

Rosenblum replied less than an hour later with an email that was heavily redacted: “Look forward to continuing the conversation.” 

Nov. 10, 2016: Rosenblum and the unidentified official exchanged emails, all heavily redacted, which appear to concern a “BorderStat roll-out” and “Winter Study.”

Nov. 11, 2016: Rosenblum responded to the official, reminding them that materials not yet shared with the public should not be shared with the transition team for then President-elect Donald Trump. Rosenblum copied high-ranking official Kelli Ann Burriesci to confirm this policy and wrote: “Want to clarify one important point for now: This is not our decision to make. We still work for Secretary [Jeh] Johnson and President Obama […] Trump transition team does not work for DHS or the US government; we are not authorized to provide them with unpublished materials unless they have been cleared by our transition council.”

That afternoon, the official replied to Rosenblum to assure him that they “Agree completely that BorderStat report release has to be a chain-of-command decision.” They then wrote: “I’m assuming your role hasn’t changed; if it has, let me know who I should be making these suggestions to. And I will certainly work through whoever the new team puts in change of this effort, be it you or anyone else.” 

Burriesci then emailed everyone to reassert that the transition team should not be allowed any materials that are not already public: “Gentlemen, good discussion. […] And please note, Marc [Rosenblum] is correct on the point not to release anything not available to the public to the transition team. They are not federal employees.” 

The officials on the email thread continued to coordinate on a DHS report throughout November. 

Dec. 5, 2016: The unidentified official sent an email to Rosenblum, Kuepper, DHS official Seth Stodder, and others. The email, heavily redacted, seems to discuss the border report and a immigration research conference. The official wrote: “If you intend to include border metrics in this discussion, then we should have diverse and broad DHS representation there to ensure a balanced discussion. Also, if you are sharing this report outside of [the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans], then I’d like to pass along my comments to those folks and any other government colleagues with equities in this mission space […]. All equity holders need to understand the grave implications of this report.” 

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