President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that his administration would proceed with the construction of approximately 20 additional miles of the southern border wall.
The reason behind
Addressing reporters, President Biden explained the reasoning behind his decision, stating, “Money was appropriated for the border wall by Congress during the Trump administration. I tried to persuade them to reallocate those funds, but they resisted. Under the law, we are obligated to utilize the allocated funds as specified, and I can’t change that.”
While the White House had proposed reallocating funds away from border wall construction in 2021, Congress largely disregarded the request. Subsequently, a series of bureaucratic and procedural hurdles had to be cleared before the project could move forward.
One particularly contentious aspect of this decision is the fact that the Biden administration is waiving 26 federal laws to facilitate the continuation of unfinished border wall construction in South Texas, as documented in the federal register on Thursday.
These waivers encompass key environmental regulations, such as the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act, all in the name of border barrier construction in select areas of Starr County, Texas.
Border Wall: Can it stop migrants?
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the move, citing an urgent need for physical barriers amidst a surge in migrant arrivals and mounting political tensions.
He stated, “There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers.” However, President Biden continued to express his skepticism about the effectiveness of a border wall, reiterating his long-held stance to ABC Senior White House Correspondent Selina Wang.
The decision to proceed with the border wall expansion has sparked controversy on both sides of the political spectrum.
Laiken Jordahl, Southwest conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, expressed dismay, saying, “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.” Jordahl emphasized the environmental impact on Starr County, which is home to critical and biologically significant habitats.
In the face of this contentious decision, the Biden administration faces the challenge of reconciling its commitment to environmental protection with the demands of border security and immigration management.
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