Migrants approach a border wall in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Construction of the wall will use funds already allocated specifically for physical border barriers. But this move comes at a time A New Rise of Immigrants straining federal and local resources and putting severe political pressure on the Biden administration A wider crisis.
The Border Patrol reported about 300,000 encounters in the Rio Grande Valley between October and August. Federal data. Last month, the Border Patrol He was arrested More than 200,000 migrants have crossed the US-Mexico border, the highest number this year.
The Department of Homeland Security had decided it was “necessary to waive certain laws, regulations and other legal requirements to ensure expeditious construction of barriers and roads” along the U.S. border with Mexico in Starr County, Texas, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorgas said in a filing with the U.S. Federal Registry.
“There is now a serious and urgent need to build physical barriers and roads near the US border to prevent illegal entry into the United States in project areas,” Mayorkas said in the announcement.
A 2019 appropriations bill that specifically paid for a “border barrier” in the Rio Grande Valley will pay for construction of the wall, and according to Mayorkas, “DHS must use those funds for their intended purpose.” The funds must be spent by the end of fiscal year 2023, prompting the administration to choose to move forward with construction in South Texas this year, according to a source familiar with the matter.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced plans to design and build up to 20 miles of new border barrier systems in Starr County, including light poles and lights, gates, cameras and access roads. CBP solicited public input between August and September, according to the agency.
Among the laws the Biden administration is ignoring to build the wall are many of the same laws the administration has moved to protect in the past, including: National Environmental Policy ActThe Endangered Species ActThe Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.
A CBP spokeswoman said the agency is “committed to protecting the nation’s cultural and natural resources” while implementing “sound environmental practices” to build border barriers.
President Joe Biden – who, as a candidate, He vowed He has been plagued by problems at the border since his first months in office, when the U.S. faced a surge in unaccompanied migrant children — saying there would not be “another foot” of the border wall built under his watch. Over the past two years, his administration has faced a fierce backlash from Republicans and, at times, Democrats.
But there has been a new surge of immigrants Additional pressure Federal resources have been tested just months after Biden’s latest border policies took effect, prompting fresh criticism from Republicans and concern within the administration over a politically sensitive issue.
Migration on the southern border a Incessant attention Republican presidential primary field and conservative media and leading Democrats, including mayors New York And ChicagoThey have begun to publicly demand stronger efforts by the central government to provide resources to accommodate the influx.
There are migrant crossings along the US-Mexico border Expected to be more More recently, a senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection official recently told CNN, however, that Mexico’s additional responsibilities are expected to eventually help reduce the number.
This week, Mayorkas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Attorney General Merrick Garland and White House Homeland Security Adviser Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall will meet her Mexican counterparts in Mexico City for annual security talks.
Migration is expected to be a topic of discussion. Senior administration officials say the U.S. remains in constant contact with Mexico on the situation on the U.S. southern border, including commitments to improve enforcement.
This story has been updated with additional information.