The Biden administration is defending its plan to construct 17 miles of border wall in South Texas.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced in the U.S. Federal Register that a wall in Starr County, Texas, will be constructed to “deter illegal crossings in areas of ‘high illegal entry’ into the United States.”
President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security has “determined, pursuant to law, that it is necessary to waive certain laws, regulations, and other legal requirements in order to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads in the vicinity of the international land border in Starr County, Texas,” the notice reads.
The move comes as a surprise to those on the political Left and Right who remember Biden’s 2020 campaign promise to not add “another foot of wall” during his administration, and his 2021 proclamation ending all construction of the border wall.
But the Department of Homeland Security says the construction of the wall does not indicate a change in the Biden administration’s policy.
A DHS spokesperson told The Daily Signal in an email Thursday, “The construction project you’re reading about today was appropriated during the prior administration, in 2019, and the government is legally required to utilize these funds for their appropriated purpose.”
“The Administration repeatedly called on Congress to cancel or reappropriate remaining border barrier funding and instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border,” the spokesperson said.
Customs and Border Protection, according to the DHS official, “remains committed to protecting the nation’s cultural and natural resources and will implement sound environmental practices as part of the project covered by this waiver.”
Some Republican lawmakers see the action as an indication that the Biden administration is admitting that border walls are effective.
“Republicans have talked about the importance of a border wall time and time again,” Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., told The Daily Signal.
Guest serves as vice chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and has “hammered Sec. Mayorkas and his administration every time they come before the Committee,” he said. “For years, they were adamant that walls do not work and are antiquated and not worth another dollar. Finally, to see them coming around to the fact that border walls do work is showing the difference that Republicans are making. Biden is slowly realizing the negative impact an open border has had across our country.”
Texas Republican Rep. August Pfluger said even though “President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas still refuse to label the horrific situation along our border a crisis, Secretary Mayorkas is now admitting to an ‘immediate need’ to build additional border wall in Texas.”
Pfluger added that “any additional barrier must be followed up by the political will to enforce our immigration laws,” noting that a physical border wall is not enough to “stop the outright invasion of our country—only consequences will.”
The president continues to insist that physical border walls don’t work, telling reporters Thursday that he sought to have the money appropriated for the border wall under the Trump administration reappropriated, but “they wouldn’t,” referring to Congress. “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,” Biden said.
Former President Donald Trump says he is waiting for an apology from Biden for taking so long to resume construction of the wall.
“Will Joe Biden apologize to me and America for taking so long to get moving, and allowing our country to be flooded with 15 million illegals immigrants, from places unknown,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, adding, “I will await his apology!”
The news of the border wall construction comes at the same time the border crisis has been making headlines for weeks as a near record number of illegal aliens are crossing America’s southern border in Eagle Pass, Texas.
Though CBP’s official September numbers have not yet been released, nationwide illegal alien encounters for fiscal year 2023, which ended Sept. 30, have already surpassed encounters in fiscal year 2022.
Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told The Daily Signal he is “happy” the Biden administration is constructing a section of border wall, but “it’s about 9 million illegal border crossings too late.”
Since the start of the Biden administration, more than 7 million illegal aliens have been encountered on America’s borders, both at ports of entry and between ports, and an unknown number of illegal aliens have successfully evaded Border Patrol to enter the interior of the country.
Not only does the Biden administration need to construct the border wall, Mehlman said, they also “need to start enforcing our other laws—they need to end catch and release, they need to stop the abuse of our asylum system … they need to fill in those gaps with other forms of enforcement.”
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