DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says there is a “acute and immediate need” to break dozens of federal laws in order to build a border wall in south Texas, where illegal immigration has increased. It’s a big change from the early days of the administration, when such barriers were laughed off.
The agency put an announcement in the U.S. Federal Register about construction in Starr County in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, where the administration says there is “high illegal entry.” This fiscal year, the agency says that more than 245,000 migrants have been seen in the sector. Mayorkas says he is using the power Congress gave him to go against 26 federal laws, such as the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
“According to sections 102(a) and 102(b) of [the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996], there is an urgent and immediate need to build physical barriers and roads near the U.S. border to stop illegal entry into the U.S. in the project areas,” Mayorkas said.
Early in 2021, the government stopped building a new border wall. This was because Biden had said as a presidential candidate that “not another foot of wall will be built on my watch.” The administration said that building the wall under Trump was “just one example of the previous administration’s misplaced priorities and failure to manage migration in a safe, orderly, and humane way.”
But the construction is paid for by the fiscal year 2019 DHS appropriations bill. This bill paid for wall projects in the RGV Sector and requires DHS to use the money for its intended purpose.
In June, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said that up to 20 miles of wall would be built in the RGV Sector. The administration has taken steps in the past to close gaps and replace gates. They say that such projects give priority to the completion of activities and projects that deal with risks to life, safety, and operations, such as the safety of people, Border Patrol agents, and migrants.
A CBP representative told Fox News Digital that the waiver is for projects to build barriers that were announced in June. It will cover about 17 miles in Starr County. The spokesperson said that the project fits with DHS’s plan to carry out President Biden’s Jan. 20, 2021, proclamation. That proclamation said that money for the border wall could no longer be taken from military projects or other sources. It also said that Congress’s funds for building barriers had to be used for their intended purpose.
“CBP is still committed to protecting the nation’s cultural and natural resources, and as part of the project covered by this waiver, it will put in place good environmental practices,” the spokesperson said.
The announcement comes as the Biden administration faces a new wave of illegal immigration, which has led to record-high numbers at the southern border and harsh criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. Sources from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told Fox News last week that there were more than 260,000 encounters in September, which would be the highest monthly total on record.
Republicans have said that the policies of the Biden administration, like rolling back policies from the Trump administration and stopping work on the border wall, are to blame for the high numbers. Republicans have also said bad things about the administration for selling off parts of the border wall and for suing Texas over a border wall it built in the Rio Grande.
“President Trump is always right,” the Trump campaign told Fox News Digital in a statement. “That’s why he built a strong new wall along the border for almost 500 miles, and it should be done by now. Instead, Crooked Joe Biden made our country a huge safe haven for dangerous criminals from other countries.
The administration has said that Congress needs to give more money and pass laws to fix the “broken” system it is working with. Meanwhile, liberal states and cities that are overwhelmed by the growing number of illegal immigrants are calling on the government to do more, including finding ways to stop illegal immigrants from coming in.