President Biden, in a recent address at the White House, commented on the continuation of the border wall construction in Texas.
He stated, “I tried to get them to reappropriate, to redirect that money,” but was met with resistance, leading him to acknowledge, “They didn’t. They wouldn’t. And in the meantime, there’s nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated. I can’t stop that.” When probed about the efficacy of a border wall, President Biden’s response was a straightforward “no.”
White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt took to Twitter to provide context, noting, “The funds for ~20 miles of border reinforcements were appropriated in 2019 before [Biden] took office.” He further elaborated that Biden had urged Congress to reallocate the funds for more efficient enforcement strategies, but Congress did not act. LaBolt emphasized, “Rule of law requires the project be completed in 2023.”
Fox News Digital highlighted a statement from the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, who underscored an “acute and immediate need” to bypass certain federal laws to expedite the border wall construction in south Texas, an area witnessing a significant rise in illegal migration. The U.S. Federal Register detailed plans for construction in Starr County in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, citing “high illegal entry” with over 245,000 migrant encounters this fiscal year.
Mayorkas, leveraging his congressional authority, announced waivers for 26 federal laws, including the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. He justified this by stating, “There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas pursuant to sections 102(a) and 102(b) of [the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996].”
It’s noteworthy that the Biden administration had previously halted new border wall projects in early 2021. Biden had assured during his presidential campaign that under his administration, there would “not be another foot of wall constructed.” The halted construction was criticized as a reflection of the Trump administration’s misaligned priorities. However, the ongoing construction is financed by the fiscal year 2019 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, which earmarked funds specifically for the Rio Grande Valley Sector projects. This funding mandates the DHS to adhere to its designated purpose.
The decision to continue the construction comes at a time when the Biden administration is grappling with a surge in illegal immigration, leading to record numbers at the southern border and drawing criticism from both sides of the aisle. Recent data indicates that September saw encounters surpassing 260,000, potentially setting a new monthly record.