In a move that has stirred controversy within the Democratic Party, the Biden administration recently announced its intention to override specific laws to facilitate the erection of “physical barriers” at the U.S.-Mexico border in Starr County, Texas.
This past week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, released a statement that underscored an “acute and immediate need” to deter illegal crossings. He singled out the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector as a significant concern, revealing that over 245,000 unauthorized immigrants passed through this sector last fiscal year. This marks a complete reversal from the left’s stance in the past seven years.
While Mayorkas’s language included terms such as “physical barriers” and “additional fencing,” he notably avoided the term “wall.” This linguistic choice did not deter Ocasio-Cortez from voicing her concerns. She quickly pointed out that the Biden administration was not obligated to expand the border wall. She criticized the move as reminiscent of former President Trump’s policies and has urged President Biden to reconsider. Furthermore, she expressed dismay over the decision to bypass several environmental laws to expedite the construction and restated her belief that the wall was not an answer to the problem.
On Thursday, Biden suggested the decision to build the wall was out of his hands. President Biden referred to a 2019 appropriation earmarked for the border wall. He shed light on his attempts to reallocate these funds but was bound by the law’s stipulations, which dictated that the funds be used for their designated purpose. This comes after the Biden administration was also found selling portions of Trump’s border wall on a government surplus website.
It is no surprise that less than two days after reports surfaced about the Department of Homeland Security’s urgent need to build physical barriers along the U.S. border, the DHS has already started backpedaling on Mayorkas’ statement. This is happening even as the Biden administration waived 26 federal laws to construct more border walls amid a record influx of immigrants. Mayorkas later said, “There is no new administration policy with respect to the border wall,” and “From day one, this Administration has made clear that a border wall is not the answer.”
Mayorkas has set aside several federal laws:
- National Environmental Policy Act
- Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
- Endangered Species Act
- National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act
These laws, pivotal for the preservation of the environment, history, and culture, have been temporarily suspended to make way for the barriers.
In a bid to clarify the administration’s stance, Mayorkas released a separate statement. He emphasized that the administration’s position on border walls has remained consistent. From the beginning, the Biden administration has maintained that a border wall is not the solution to the problems at the border.
After being criticized for her stance on immigration, Ocasio-Cortez defended herself on social media. Her video message stressed the importance of addressing migration’s root causes and suggested that U.S. foreign policy may have inadvertently exacerbated the migrant crisis. For her, merely erecting barriers would not address the crux of the issue.