Former President Donald Trump claimed vindication on Thursday after the Biden administration announced that it would add sections to the wall along the Mexican border to stave off record migrant crossings. However, President Joe Biden also made the claim that his administration had no choice except to build about 20 miles more of the southern wall.
“Money was appropriated for the border wall,” Biden told reporters, a reference to congressional action during the Trump administration. “I tried to get them to reappropriate – to redirect the money. 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 is appropriated. I can’t stop that.”
The White House had previously proposed that the funds for border wall construction be rescinded in 2021, but Congress essentially ignored the request. Officials have since said a series of procedural regulatory steps were required before the project could move forward.
Build the Wall
However, the Biden administration is now waiving 26 federal laws to resume construction on the unfinished border wall in South Texas, according to documents formally published in the federal register Thursday. Those waivers reportedly include ones for the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Endangered Species Act and allow for border barrier construction in select areas of Starr County, Texas.
The waiving of federal laws for the construction has raised several questions, especially after Biden had condemned the border wall spending during the 2020 election, and pledged not to build “another foot of wall.” After taking office, one of his first actions was to halt the use of emergency funds to build the wall along the southern border.
The Border Crisis Continues
The reversal to build a physical barrier comes as the White House is struggling to manage an increasing number of migrants at the border. The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it would resume deporting migrants back to Venezuela as part of the efforts to slow arrivals.
Moreover, some border officials have said that new barriers, along with the infrastructure that comes with it, could help better focus border patrols while allowing agents to apprehend migrants more efficiently. The danger is that migrants could seek to evade the barrier sections by crossing in more dangerous and remote areas.
Yet, the barriers that are constructed above the borderline do not prevent migrants from turning themselves over to authorities and initiating an asylum claim. As ABC News reported, once a non-citizen crosses the official international boundary – which exists in the middle of the river along much of the Rio Grande Valley region – they are legally allowed to fight deportation proceedings.
Critics of the Border Wall Fire Back
There has been a swift backlash from critics of the border wall. Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called the decision to resume the construction of a border wall a move “a step backwards.”
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) on Thursday issued a statement, in which they described the wall as “disappointing.”
“While this border wall funding was signed into law by President Trump under Republican leadership, this decision is not in line with the current Administration’s commitments to end border wall construction. Republicans remain committed to building border walls that are ineffective, a poor use of taxpayer funds, and a strain on the local environment, endangering families and children who are fleeing from dangerous conditions and that seek legal asylum in the United States,” CHC Chair Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) said in a statement to TheHill.com.
Environmental advocates who had fought the Trump administration’s construction efforts were also dismayed by the Biden administration’s reversal.
“It’s disheartening to see President Biden stoop to this level, casting aside our nation’s bedrock environmental laws to build ineffective wildlife-killing border walls,” Laiken Jordahl, Southwest conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, told ABC News. “Starr County is home to some of the most spectacular and biologically important habitat left in Texas and now bulldozers are preparing to rip right through it. This is a horrific step backwards for the borderlands.”
Not surprisingly, former President Trump saw it differently.
“As I have stated often, over thousands of years, there are only two things that have consistently worked, wheels, and walls!” Trump wrote on social media on Thursday. “Will Joe Biden apologize to me and America for taking so long to get moving…”
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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