The Biden administration, led by Democratic President Joe Biden, has announced its plans to extend the barrier along the Mexico border, continuing a key policy initiated by former Republican President Donald Trump. This decision has generated mixed reactions, as Biden had previously stated that American taxpayers would no longer fund the construction of border walls when he assumed office in January 2021. Despite his belief that massive border walls are not a viable solution, Biden clarified that allocated funds from 2019 must be utilized for this purpose.
In order to proceed with the wall’s construction, the government declared the necessity to temporarily suspend approximately two dozen federal laws and regulations pertaining to environmental and protected species concerns. Interior Minister Alejandro Mayorkas emphasized the urgent need for physical barriers and roads near the border to deter illegal entry. The new section will be constructed in the Rio Grande Valley, a region that has experienced a significant influx of Mexican immigrants. In the ten months leading up to August, there were approximately 245,000 recorded attempts to enter the US illegally.
Mayorkas also noted that the funding for these “additional natural barriers” originates from a fund approved by Congress in 2019 during Trump’s presidency. Trump, a leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential elections, commented on the Biden administration’s decision, highlighting his prior efforts to build a substantial wall and questioning Biden’s delay in addressing the issue.
Numerous Republican politicians and Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador criticized the US government’s decision, with López Obrador asserting that building a wall does not address the root causes of irregular immigration. Environmental activists expressed dismay over the project, particularly in Starr County, where the wall is set to be constructed, as it is home to a vital natural environment in Texas.
A US official explained that the government is legally obligated to use the allocated funding before its expiration at the end of 2023. Efforts to redirect these funds to other projects through congressional action have proven unsuccessful. The White House highlighted that the previous administration had constructed 52 miles of wall in areas where no fence existed previously, at a cost of $46 million per mile.