Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated on Wednesday that the United States has a “urgent and pressing need” to construct a border wall in southern Texas, and he issued an order suspending some of the nation’s most renowned environmental protection laws in order to expedite construction.
Mr. Mayorkas identified scores of miles of border along which he intends to construct barriers and roads and where he indicated that environmental regulations would be an impediment.
“There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas,” Mr. Mayorkas said in an official filing in the Federal Register. “In order to ensure the expeditious construction of the barriers and roads in the project areas, I have determined that it is necessary that I exercise the authority that is vested in me by section 102(c) of IIRIRA.”
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act provides the homeland security secretary the power to waive laws when necessary to facilitate border construction.
The Associated Press reported that the Biden administration is waiving 26 federal laws to allow border wall construction in South Texas.
As reported by Fox News’ Bill Melugin, Biden pledged while running for president in 2020: “There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.”
The Biden administration intends to appear in court on Thursday to challenge Texas’ floating wall in the Rio Grande on the grounds that it impedes river navigation.
The waiver granted to Mr. Mayorkas applies to 26 federal statutes, including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
The secretary previously declared that he would construct miles of wall, contradicting President Biden’s 2020 campaign pledge that “not another foot of wall will be constructed” by his administration.
Mr. Mayorkas stated that he was constrained by congressional spending legislation requiring funds for the construction of a border wall. The administration procrastinated for years and pleaded with Congress to revoke the funds, but these efforts were unsuccessful.
For environmental groups, declaring the wall a “immediate” necessity and suspending the laws went too far.
Laiken Jordahl of the Center for Biological Diversity stated, “It’s disheartening to see President Biden stoop to this level by disregarding our nation’s most fundamental environmental laws in order to construct ineffective border walls that kill wildlife.” This is a terrible regression for the borderlands.
According to the center, this is the first time the Biden administration has used the authority to waive the wall.
According to the organization, the proposed construction by the Biden administration would traverse the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge protects endangered species such as the ocelot and the jaguarundi.
The construction of the wall was Donald Trump’s signature campaign pledge in 2016.
As more than 450 miles of wall were constructed, the Trump administration issued numerous waivers.
Much of this fencing supplanted aging fences and, in many locations, vehicle barriers that could be easily scaled by foot.
According to a report released by the Government Accountability Office last month, construction of the border wall caused “significant damage” to sacred sites of American Indians residing along the border. The GAO criticized the government for neglecting to consult with communities regarding the mitigation of the wall’s negative effects.
GAO also took issue with Mr. Biden’s 2021 decision to cease construction. It was noted that a construction stoppage halted efforts to restore land disturbed by construction.
Mr. Mayorkas has repeatedly declined to characterize the unprecedented influx of illegal immigrants at the border as a crisis. However, he has proclaimed multiple policy resets in an effort to stem the flow.
The wall is yet another reversal, albeit one that Congress compelled.
Mr. Mayorkas stated in 2021 that he was willing to close “gaps” in the wall left by Mr. Biden’s construction suspension. He ruled out large-scale wall construction, stating on “Fox News Sunday” that “under the administration’s policy, we do not support the construction of the wall.”
This goes against the advice of Border Patrol agents, who say that a wall along the nearly 2,000-mile border is unnecessary but that additional sections require barriers.
According to agents, the wall aids agents detect border crossers by funneling them toward them.
Earlier this year, sector chiefs of the Border Patrol testified before Congress regarding the utility of a wall.
In addition, agents claim they desire the roads and technology of a Trump-style wall. The technology helps detect intrusions, and the roads allow agents to reach the appropriate locations to apprehend border crossers.
In his notice to the Federal Register, Mr. Mayorkas stated that he would construct both barriers and roads.
He stated that the department “will take immediate action.”
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