The Biden administration says it is using executive power to allow border wall construction in Texas

The Department of Homeland Security posted the announcement on the U.S. Federal Registry with few details outlining the construction in Starr County, Texas, which is part of a busy Border Patrol sector seeing “high illegal entry.”

Associated Press

Oct 5, 2023, 7:58 PM

Updated 229 days ago

Share:

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — The Biden administration announced they waived 26 federal laws in South Texas to allow border wall construction on Wednesday, marking the administration’s first use of sweeping executive power to pave the way for building more border barriers — a tactic used often during the Trump presidency.
The Department of Homeland Security posted the announcement on the U.S. Federal Registry with few details outlining the construction in Starr County, Texas, which is part of a busy Border Patrol sector seeing “high illegal entry.” According to government data, about 245,000 illegal entries have been recorded in this region during the current fiscal year.
“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,” Alejandro Mayorkas, the DHS secretary, stated in the notice.
The Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Endangered Species Act were some of the federal laws waived by DHS to make way for construction that will use funds from a congressional appropriation in 2019 for border wall construction. The waivers avoid time-consuming reviews and lawsuits challenging violation of environmental laws.
Although no maps were provided in the announcement, a previous map shared during the gathering of public comments shows the piecemeal construction will add up to an additional 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the existing border barrier system in the area.
“The other concern that we have is that area is highly erosive. There’s a lot of arroyos,” said Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, the highest-elected official in the county, pointing out the creeks cutting through the ranchland and leading into the river.
Starr County is home to about 65,000 residents spread over about 1,200 square miles (3,108 square kilometers) that includes ranchland and part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
Environmental advocates say structures will run through public lands, habitats of endangered plants and animal species like the ocelot, a spotted wild cat.
“A plan to build a wall through will bulldoze an impermeable barrier straight through the heart of that habitat. It will stop wildlife migrations dead in their tracks. It will destroy a huge amount of wildlife refuge land. And it’s a horrific step backwards for the borderlands,” Laiken Jordahl, a southwest conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, said Wednesday afternoon.
During the Trump administration, about 450 miles (724 kilometers) of barriers were built along the southwest border between 2017 and January 2021. Texas Governor Greg Abbott renewed those efforts as part of his ongoing immigration enforcement from the state level after the Biden administration initially halted them at the start of his presidency.
The DHS decision on Wednesday contrasts the Biden administration’s posturing when a proclamation to end the construction on Jan. 20, 2021 stated, “building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection had no immediate comment.
The announcement prompted political debate by the Democratic administration facing an increase of migrants entering through the southern border in recent months, including thousands who entered the U.S. through Eagle Pass at the end of September.
“A border wall is a 14th century solution to a 21st century problem. It will not bolster border security in Starr County,” U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar said in a statement. “I continue to stand against the wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars on an ineffective border wall.”
Political proponents of the border wall said the waivers should be used as a launching pad for a shift in policy.
“After years of denying that a border wall and other physical barriers are effective, the DHS announcement represents a sea change in the administration’s thinking: A secure wall is an effective tool for maintaining control of our borders,” Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said in a statement. “Having made that concession, the administration needs to immediately begin construction of wall across the border to prevent the illegal traffic from simply moving to other areas of the border.”


More from News 12
2:18
‘It’s not enough.’ CT lawmakers demand changes after former budget deputy indicted

‘It’s not enough.’ CT lawmakers demand changes after former budget deputy indicted

2:29
STORM WATCH: Sunny and warm in Connecticut, rain expected Wednesday into Thursday

STORM WATCH: Sunny and warm in Connecticut, rain expected Wednesday into Thursday

2:06
Biden releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from Northeast reserve in bid to lower prices at pump

Biden releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from Northeast reserve in bid to lower prices at pump

1:50
Retailers slashing prices this summer following store closures nationwide

Retailers slashing prices this summer following store closures nationwide

0:20
Avelo Airlines announces nonstop service from HVN to Washington D.C’s Dulles International Airport

Avelo Airlines announces nonstop service from HVN to Washington D.C’s Dulles International Airport

0:29
Natural gas odor in Bridgeport prompts evacuation of Bryant Elementary School

Natural gas odor in Bridgeport prompts evacuation of Bryant Elementary School

0:42
Norwalk officials say 61% of double pole transfers made, 31% of removals completed

Norwalk officials say 61% of double pole transfers made, 31% of removals completed

2:32
Experts share tips for National Safe Boating Week

Experts share tips for National Safe Boating Week

0:23
Officials: Arrest made in last September's New Milford fatal car crash

Officials: Arrest made in last September's New Milford fatal car crash

3:36
Made In Connecticut: Manufacturing drones in Stratford

Made In Connecticut: Manufacturing drones in Stratford

2:03
Bodycam video released by authorities shows knife-wielding man charging at Bridgeport officer

Bodycam video released by authorities shows knife-wielding man charging at Bridgeport officer

0:21
Wolfpit Road reopens following gas main break in Wilton

Wolfpit Road reopens following gas main break in Wilton

2:09
Asian & Pacific American Heritage Month: Greenwich Japanese School to host student performance

Asian & Pacific American Heritage Month: Greenwich Japanese School to host student performance

2:21
Stamford High School student mourned after deadly motorcycle crash

Stamford High School student mourned after deadly motorcycle crash

2:13
CT offers health care providers $50,000 to work in underserved areas

CT offers health care providers $50,000 to work in underserved areas

2:09
Greenwich teen's nonprofit holds 1st annual golf club giveaway

Greenwich teen's nonprofit holds 1st annual golf club giveaway

0:44
Gov. Lamont says he was unaware of Kosta Diamantis' alleged illegal activities

Gov. Lamont says he was unaware of Kosta Diamantis' alleged illegal activities

1:56
Pro-Palestinian protesters call for ceasefire before Yale’s 323rd commencement

Pro-Palestinian protesters call for ceasefire before Yale’s 323rd commencement

0:37
Norwalk Public Schools awarded $21.5 million for heating and cooling systems

Norwalk Public Schools awarded $21.5 million for heating and cooling systems

0:23
Police: Vehicle crashes into Norwalk dance studio

Police: Vehicle crashes into Norwalk dance studio