October 5, 2023
In a significant policy shift, the Biden administration has decided to accelerate the construction of the border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in Starr County, Texas. This decision is based on a pressing requirement to tackle the growing surge of migrants entering the country unlawfully. This decision, announced on Wednesday, marks a departure from the administration’s previous stance on the issue.
Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has assumed a central role in this shift of strategy. He has made it known that he intends to bypass multiple federal regulations to simplify the process of building roads and barriers along the southern border of Texas. These new infrastructure projects will be strategically positioned within the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the Border Patrol, an area that has been pinpointed as a region with a high incidence of illegal entry.
The specific areas slated for construction include the vicinity of the Falcon Dam, the Arroyo Morteros Tract, the Las Ruinas Tract, the Arroyo Ramirez Tract, and key intersections like “Perez Road and U.S. Highway 83.”Furthermore, development plans are set to focus on different sections within the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
Mayorkas’s decision to issue waivers and expedite construction was based on alarming U.S. Border Patrol statistics, which indicate that over 245,000 migrants have crossed the border illegally in Starr County since early August. “There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States,” Mayorkas emphasized.
“Therefore, I must use my authority under section 102 of IIRIRA to install additional physical barriers and roads in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Therefore, DHS will take immediate action to construct barriers and roads.”
To fund this infrastructure project, the “Department of Homeland Security (DHS)” intends to utilize funds allocated by Congress during the Trump administration in 2019 to erect barriers along the border in the Rio Grande Valley. To advance the construction of these barriers and roadways designed to discourage unlawful immigration, Mayorkas has invoked “Section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA),” granting him the authority to “bypass specific laws, rules, and other legal obligations.”
Among the statutes waived are several environmental and conservation laws, including the “National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, among others.” Notably, these waivers do not negate or replace any previously granted waivers issued under Section 102(c) of IIRIRA. Mayorkas has also retained the authority to issue additional waivers should they prove necessary to achieve the legislative objectives.
The need for an accelerated border wall construction has been a point of contention, with Republicans, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, attributing the unprecedented surge in illegal immigration to Biden administration policies, such as reversing Trump-era measures and discontinuing border wall construction.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration halted ongoing border wall construction, asserting that the previous administration’s focus on the wall was misdirected and did not effectively address border security and immigration management.
In a related development, Mexican President “Andrés Manuel López Obrador” issued a warning, stating that the United States is expected to experience an influx of around 10,000 migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border daily. This prediction is based on the recent trend of migrants crossing from Guatemala into Mexico. Mexico, as the United States’ largest trading partner, has been providing government-run bus services, facilitating the movement of migrants from its southern regions to the northern border with the United States.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit Mexico, where he will join other administration officials in discussions with Mexican counterparts about shared security, health, and public safety concerns. Blinken emphasized the mutual responsibility of the USA and Mexico in addressing the ongoing fentanyl and illegal immigration crises through cooperation.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, possesses a potency that is potentially 50 times greater than that of heroin, and it played a role in causing 70 percent of fatalities linked to overdoses in the year 2022. Authorities have seized an alarming quantity of fentanyl at the southern border, with the Drug Enforcement Administration reporting the confiscation of over 387.9 million potentially lethal doses in 2022 alone. This issue underscores the urgency of addressing border security and the flow of illicit drugs into the United States.