DHS chief Mayorkas approves border wall projects to fill gaps and replace gates
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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has authorized projects across the southern border to fill gaps in the border wall and replace gates — even as the administration continues to urge Congress to end to all credits for the Trump-era project.
The projects span California, Arizona and Texas and will include work in the San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, El Paso and Rio Grande Valley areas, and are funded by existing congressional appropriations for DHS .
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They include the creation of train doors to make it safer for train operations officers and migrants and doors under a bridge to deal with “dangerous river waters”.
Projects also include replacing a barrier in California “that has not been properly treated to withstand corrosion from nearby ocean waters and is currently posing safety risks to Border Patrol agents, community members and migrants”.
Meanwhile, in the Rio Grande Valley – one of the areas most frequented by illegal immigration – Customs and Border Protection will complete 17 gates and engage in other work “that currently makes it difficult to effective access for Border Patrol agents to certain areas and for first responders to respond to incidents.”
The Trump administration has built about 450 miles of wall on the southern border as part of its efforts to crack down on illegal migration and drug trafficking. The Biden administration halted the wall immediately after taking office, calling it ineffective. Democrats and left-wing activists had called the wall xenophobic and immoral.
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“The construction of a wall along the southern border in recent years is just one example of the misplaced priorities of the previous administration and its failure to manage migration in a safe, orderly and humane manner,” said the White House said in a fact sheet about the plans last year.
However, in June last year, he announced that while he would redirect funds to the Pentagon, he would also use the money to address safety and environmental issues near construction sites. He noted plans to repair soil erosion and close breaches to stop flooding.
As this continued, the administration also canceled a number of border wall contracts. This led to Texas announcing that it would build its own wall with private funds.
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In a statement released this week, the agency said it continues to review other projects that have “life, security, environmental or other corrective action needs and has begun planning. Environmental, to include planning in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), for projects not yet completed in accordance with the Department’s plan.
However, even with a raging border crisis underway, DHS said it has not changed its mind on any future wall construction – reiterating its call for Congress to reverse remaining appropriations for the border call construction.
He urged lawmakers to instead fund “smart border security measures” such as border technology at and between ports of entry “which have been shown to be more effective in improving border safety and security.”
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He also said he would continue to assess how best to use the funds already allocated, including whether they could be used “to install the attributes of the barrier system.”
The announcement comes after Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, last week introduced legislation allowing states to release unused border wall construction materials for their own border wall projects.