By now, even the Biden administration is recognizing the crisis at the border as thousands of illegal immigrants swarm into the United States on a daily basis. Immigration patrol officers are overwhelmed with the sheer numbers, without enough resources or space to accommodate the flood of humans. All of this during a pandemic where American citizens are in some form of lockdown while our border opens to undocumented migrants. Is there a little hope on the horizon? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced it may begin resuming some work on the Wall.
On Joe Biden’s first day sitting in the Oval Office he signed executive orders dismantling former President Donald Trump’s immigration control orders, which many suggest has caused the crisis at the border. He vowed not to build “another foot of wall” and suspended all funding to the project, even though Congress had already approved and allocated monies to continue.
DHS Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that he may restart construction on the border wall to fill in “gaps” and finish specific areas that were left undone in the aftermath of Biden’s orders. He explained:
“The president has communicated quite clearly his decision that the emergency that triggered the devotion of DOD funds to the construction of the border wall is ended. But that leaves room to make decisions as the administration, as part of the administration, in particular areas of the wall that need renovation, particular projects that need to be finished.”
Officials were given 60 days to decide how to work with the partially finished project and the deadline was up in March. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, while carefully pressing the president’s resolve not to finish Trump’s security project, said most construction on the Wall has been paused. She added:
“Wall construction remains paused, to the extent permitted by law. So some has already been funded through a congressional authorization and funding allocation. But as agencies develop for a plan — it’s paused while agencies are developing a plan for the President on the management of the federal funds.”
While the Biden administration has not officially committed to restarting work on the Wall – that would mean admitting a mistake – some took the vague statements released by Psaki to heart and were not pleased. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) took to Twitter on April 7 to admonish the White House: “It’s shameful and unacceptable for @POTUS to continue the construction of Trump’s xenophobic and racist wall.”
The president has been the subject of lawsuits from states and officials for his handling of the surge at the border. His actions suspending all work on the Wall are being scrutinized to see if he had the legal authority to deny the money allocated by Congress to the continued construction. On April 7, Psaki reaffirmed the president’s opposition to the idea of it, but added that any construction performed would be done out of a legal obligation since the funding had been approved before Biden took office.
To say work on the Wall is being resumed would be a bit presumptuous since only bits and pieces to fill in “gaps” would likely be targeted. Mayorkas said they are looking at areas where gates should be installed and “where the wall has been completed but the technology has not been implemented.”
Read more from Kelli Ballard.