NATIONAL NEWS

Biden says border walls don’t work as administration bypasses laws to build more barriers in South Texas

Oct 5, 2023, 3:19 PM

Border wall...

Migrants approach the border wall in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on December 21, 2022, on the other side of the border from El Paso, Texas. (Christian Chavez/AP)

(Christian Chavez/AP)

Washington (CNN) — President Joe Biden said Thursday that he doesn’t believe border walls work, even as his administration said it will waive 26 laws to build additional border barriers in the Rio Grande Valley amid heightened political pressure over migration.

According to a notice posted to the Federal Register Wednesday, construction of the wall will be paid for using already appropriated funds earmarked specifically for physical border barriers. The administration was under a deadline to use them or lose them. But the move comes at a time when a new surge of migrants is straining federal and local resources and placing heavy political pressure on the Biden administration to address a sprawling crisis, and the notice cited “high illegal entry.”

Biden – who, as a candidate, vowed that there will “not be another foot” of border wall constructed on his watch – defended the decision to reporters Thursday, saying that he tried to get the money appropriated for other purposes but was unsuccessful.

“I’ll answer one question on the border wall: The border wall – the money was appropriated for the border wall. I tried to get them to reappropriate it, to redirect that money. They didn’t, they wouldn’t. And in the meantime, there’s nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated. I can’t stop that,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office.

Asked whether he believes the border wall works, Biden answered, “No.”

Border Patrol reported nearly 300,000 encounters in the Rio Grande Valley sector between last October and August, according to federal data. Last month, Border Patrol apprehended more than 200,000 migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, the highest total this year.

Biden has been plagued by issues on the border since his first months in office, when the US faced a surge of unaccompanied migrant children that caught officials flatfooted. Over the last two years, his administration has continued to face fierce pushback from Republicans – and at times, Democrats – over his immigration policies.

But a new surge of migrants has placed additional pressure on federal resources and tested Biden’s latest border policies only months after going into place, prompting fresh criticism from Republicans and concern within the administration over a politically delicate issue.

Migration along the southern border has been a relentless focus of the Republican presidential primary field and conservative media, and leading Democrats, including the mayors of New York and Chicago, have begun publicly demanding stronger efforts by the federal government to provide resources to accommodate arrivals.

Spending existing funds

The Department of Homeland Security had concluded “it is necessary to waive certain laws, regulations, and other legal requirements in order to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads” in Starr County, Texas, along the US border with Mexico, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in the filing posted in the US Federal Registry.

“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,” Mayorkas said in the notice.

Construction of the wall will be paid for through a 2019 appropriations bill that funneled money specifically to a “border barrier” in the Rio Grande Valley, and according to Mayorkas, “DHS is required to use those funds for their appropriated purpose.” The funds needed to be spent by the end of fiscal year 2023, prompting the administration to choose to move forward this year with construction in south Texas, according to a source familiar.

US Customs and Border Protection had previously announced plans to design and construct up to 20 miles of new border barrier systems in Starr County, including light poles and lighting, gates, cameras and access roads, among other systems. CBP sought public input between August and September, according to the agency.

Among the laws the Biden administration is bypassing to build the wall are several of the same statutes the administration has in the past moved to protect, including: the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.

A CBP spokesperson said the agency “remains committed to protecting the nation’s cultural and natural resources” while implementing “sound environmental practices” to build the border barriers.

Engagement with Mexico

Migrant crossings at the US-Mexico border are expected to remain high in the near term, a senior US Customs and Border Protection official recently told CNN, though additional commitments from Mexico are expected to help eventually drive down numbers.

This week, Mayorkas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Attorney General Merrick Garland and White House Homeland Security adviser Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall will meet with their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City for annual security talks.

Migration is expected to be a topic of discussion. Senior administration officials maintain that the US has been in regular touch with Mexico over the situation at the US southern border, including commitments to shore up enforcement.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said constructing a new border wall is a “regression” that won’t resolve the immigration problem. During his daily press conference, he criticized “right-wing Republicans” for pressing the immigration and drug trafficking problem for political purposes.

“So, they are acting very irresponsibly, and they are putting very hard pressure on the president, who will always count on our support,” Lopez Obrador said. “But that authorization for the construction of the wall is a setback. Because that doesn’t solve the problem, that doesn’t solve the problem. The causes must be addressed.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

FILE - Chad Daybell is on trial for the murders of his wife Lori Vallow Daybell's two children, Jos...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Defense: Chad Daybell didn’t steal money from wife’s dead children

Chad Daybell's trial continues on Day 5, as the court discussed evidence that possibly connects Daybell to insurance fraud, with funds that were meant for Lori Vallow Daybell's murdered children.

5 hours ago

FILE - Celina Washburn protests outside the Arizona Capitol to voice her dissent for an abortion ru...

Arit John and Cheri Mossburg, CNN

Lawmakers vote against hearing Arizona bill repealing abortion ban on House floor

The Republican-controlled Arizona House of Representatives once again failed to advance a repeal of the state’s 160-year-old abortion ban Wednesday

9 hours ago

Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after giving up a two run home ...

Associated Press

A woman who accused Trevor Bauer of sex assault is now charged with defrauding the ex-MLB player

An Arizona woman who accused former major league pitcher Trevor Bauer of sexual assault has been charged with defrauding the baseball player.

10 hours ago

In this image from video from Senate Television, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., presiding over the Sen...

Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press

Senate dismisses two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security secretary, ends trial

The Senate has dismissed all impeachment charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, ending the House Republican push to remove the Cabinet secretary from office over his handling of the the U.S.-Mexico border and ending his trial before arguments even began.

10 hours ago

FILE  -A Ford Bronco is displayed at a Gus Machado Ford dealership on Jan. 23, 2023, in Hialeah, Fl...

Wyatt Grantham-Phillips

Ford recalls over 456,000 Bronco Sport and Maverick cars due to loss of drive power risk

Ford is recalling more than 456,000 Bronco Sport and Maverick vehicles due to a battery detection issue that can result in loss of drive power, increasing crash risks.

13 hours ago

Melatonin use can be especially dangerous in children and should only be used after consulting a pe...

Sandee LaMotte

Melatonin industry asked to voluntarily tighten standards after dramatic rise in childhood ER visits

A March 2024 report from the CDC discovered some 11,000 children had been seen in emergency rooms between 2019 and 2022 after ingesting melatonin while unsupervised.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Biden says border walls don’t work as administration bypasses laws to build more barriers in South Texas