Border Wall Controversy Continues as Biden Reluctantly Resumes Construction

President Joe Biden’s administration has reluctantly greenlit the construction of an additional 20 miles of border wall along the southern U.S. border. This decision comes after Biden had long criticized the efficacy of Donald Trump’s border wall, branding it as a wasteful project that fails to address the issue of illegal immigration.

Biden explained to reporters that the funds for the border wall were already appropriated by Congress during the Trump administration, and despite his efforts to redirect the money, there was no legal way to do so. The White House had proposed rescinding funds for border barrier construction in 2021, but Congress ignored the request, leaving the administration with limited options.

To move forward with the unfinished border wall construction in South Texas, the Biden administration is waiving 26 federal laws, including those related to the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the move, stating that there is an “acute and immediate need” for physical barriers amid a surge in migration.

This decision, however, contradicts Biden’s campaign promise in 2020 that his administration would not build “another foot of wall.” Mayorkas emphasized that the administration had no choice but to follow the law, expressing opposition to wall construction.

The construction plans for this additional border wall describe an 18-foot portable barrier, different from the 30-foot bollard design used during the Trump administration. Customs and Border Protection assures that environmental considerations will be taken into account, committing to protecting cultural and natural resources.

The announcement has sparked criticism from environmental advocates who opposed Trump’s wall construction efforts. Laiken Jordahl, the Southwest conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, expressed disappointment, stating that Biden is disregarding environmental laws to build “ineffective wildlife-killing border walls.”

Local landowners and leaders in Starr County, Texas, where the construction is set to take place, claim they have not been consulted or informed about the plans. Many are prepared to resist the construction, expressing frustration and a sense of déjà vu from similar struggles in the past.

Despite the controversy surrounding the decision, the Biden administration clarified that the construction was not a new barrier announcement but rather a continuation of the project in the Rio Grande Valley announced in June. The administration aims to prioritize deploying technology and other system elements alongside physical barriers.

ABC News