The Biden administration performed an about-face and said there’s an “immediate need” to construct a border wall in Texas.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made the announcement in a post on the U.S. Federal Register.
“The Secretary 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 announcement read.
DHS Sec. Mayorkas declares 'acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers' to prevent illegal border crossings https://t.co/huITDeQEGG
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) October 5, 2023
From the Federal Register:
DETERMINATION AND WAIVER:
The United States Border Patrol’s (Border Patrol) Rio Grande Valley Sector is an area of “high illegal entry.” As of early August 2023, Border Patrol had encountered over 245,000 such entrants attempting to enter the United States between ports of entry in the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Fiscal Year 2023.
Therefore, I must use my authority under section 102 of IIRIRA to install additional physical barriers and roads in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Therefore, DHS will take immediate action to construct barriers and roads. Construction will be funded by a fiscal year 2019 appropriation through which Congress appropriated funds for the construction border barrier in the Rio Grande Valley, and DHS is required to use those funds for their appropriated purpose. This project is consistent with DHS’s plan to fulfill the requirements of President Biden’s Proclamation (Proclamation No. 10142, 86 Fed. Reg. 7225 (Jan. 20, 2021)), which ended the diversion of funds for border wall from military projects or other sources while calling for the expenditure of any funds Congress appropriated for barrier construction consistent with their appropriated purpose. The areas in the vicinity of the border within which such construction will occur are more specifically described in Section 2 below. Such areas are not located within any of the areas identified in section 231 of title II of division A of the Fiscal Year 2019 DHS Appropriations Act. See Pub. L. 116-6, Div. A, Title II, sec. 231.
Fox News reports:
The administration had put a halt to new border wall construction in early 2021, after Biden had promised as a presidential candidate that there would “not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.” The administration said wall construction under the Trump administration was “just one example of the prior administration’s misplaced priorities and failure to manage migration in a safe, orderly and humane way.”
However, the construction is funded by the fiscal year 2019 DHS appropriations bill, which specifically funded wall projects in the RGV Sector and which DHS is required to use for its appropriated purpose.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced plans for up to 20 miles of wall in the RGV Sector in June. The administration previously made moves to close gaps and replace gates and says such projects prioritize the completion of activities and projects to address life, safety and operational risks – including the safety of individuals, Border Patrol agents and migrants.
A CBP spokesperson confirmed to Fox News Digital the waiver is for barrier projects announced in June, and it will cover approximately 17 miles in Starr County. The spokesperson said the project is consistent with DHS’ plan to fulfill President Biden’s Jan. 20, 2021, proclamation that “ended the diversion of funds for border wall from military projects or other sources while calling for the expenditure of any funds Congress appropriated for barrier construction consistent with their appropriated purpose.”
To add to the border wall section in southern Texas, the Biden administration waived over two dozen federal laws.
🔥🚨 BREAKING: Joe Biden just approved a new section of President Trump’s border wall as Mexico crossings rise.
About 20 miles will be built in Starr County along its border with Mexico,
Building a border wall was a signature policy of Donald Trump as president and fiercely… pic.twitter.com/eQeelWIsLB
— Dom Lucre | Breaker of Narratives (@dom_lucre) October 5, 2023
“You pledged not to build another foot of border wall. What changed?” the media asked Joe Biden.
“The Biden administration announced it waived 26 federal laws in South Texas to allow border wall construction on Wednesday, marking the administration’s first use of a sweeping executive power employed often during the Trump presidency,” ABC News wrote.
Build that wall, Build that wall, Build that wall cause I’m down in the polls. pic.twitter.com/pQKx1mlVX7
— Commander Phil Labonte (@philthatremains) October 5, 2023
Biden admin to resume building border wall; will cut through wildlife reserve and private land to do so https://t.co/G3MhjsQxCX
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) October 5, 2023
Per ABC News:
The Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Endangered Species Act were some of the federal laws waived by DHS to make way for construction that will use funds from a congressional appropriation in 2019 for border wall construction. The waivers avoid time-consuming reviews and lawsuits challenging violation of environmental laws.
Starr County’s hilly ranchlands, sitting between Zapata and McAllen, Texas, is home to about 65,000 residents sparsely populating about 1,200 square miles (3,108 square kilometers) that form part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.Advertisement
Although no maps were provided in the announcement, CBP announced the project in June and began gathering public comments in August when it shared a map of the additional construction that can add up to 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the existing border barrier system in the area. Starr County Judge Eloy Vera said it will start south of the Falcon Dam and go past Salineño, Texas.
“The other concern that we have is that area is highly erosive. There’s a lot of arroyos,” Eloy Vera, the county judge said, pointing out the creeks cutting through the ranchland and leading into the river.