Joe Biden came into office and immediately did away with as much of Trump’s border policies as possible. The problem with his ham-handed rushed actions is that it left some critical projects in the lurch. He suspended all border wall construction and now local residents in the Rio Grande Valley have pressured him to adjust his decision.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will restart wall construction in the Rio Grande Valley, including repairs. A concrete levee wall will go up for a 13.4-mile stretch. Repairs are set to begin in six weeks in order to prevent flooding. The levee wall will be fitted with safety barriers in six to nine months. The USACE was quick to clarify the wall isn’t being expanded and this will only repair the Rio Grande flood levee for the time being. The Corps of Engineers doesn’t want anyone to think that the bad Orange Man’s wall was moving forward. If Biden won’t complete the wall, the least he can do is see to it that the valley doesn’t flood because the project was halted.
To be clear, wall construction remains paused to extent permitted by law. Per DHS, we’ve started critical work to repair the Rio Grande Valley’s flood levee, which was excavated to make way for border wall. This remediation work will not involve expanding border barrier.
— USACE HQ (@USACEHQ) May 13, 2021
DHS claims that large holes were left in the Rio Grande Valley’s flood barrier system to make way for the wall. Then construction stopped. Now that area has to be repaired to protect against “catastrophic flooding”.
On his first day in office, President Biden issued a Proclamation terminating the redirection of funds diverted for border wall construction, pausing all wall construction to the extent permitted by law, and requiring Federal agencies to develop a plan for funds concerning the Southern Border wall. As DHS continues to review the extensive problems created by the prior administration’s border wall construction and develop its plans, the department will take the following initial steps consistent with the President’s Proclamation to protect border communities:
Repair the Rio Grande Valley’s Flood Barrier System: Construction under the prior administration blew large holes into the Rio Grande Valley’s flood barrier system to make way for a border wall. The flood barrier system had long provided low-lying regions of Hidalgo County, Texas, protection from catastrophic flooding, and these breaches have threatened local communities. DHS will start work to quickly repair the flood barrier system to protect border communities. This work will not involve expanding the border barrier.
Remediate Dangerous Soil Erosion in San Diego: Improper compaction of soil and construction materials along a wall segment constructed by the prior administration is causing dangerous erosion along a 14-mile stretch in San Diego, California. DHS will begin necessary backfill projects to ensure the safety of nearby border communities. This work will not involve expanding the border barrier.
That’s an interesting spin. Instead of admitting that mistakes were made in haste, as Biden felt an urgency to show he is the anti-Trump on the border, his minions at DHS blame soil and flooding problems on the Trump administration. If the wall construction hadn’t been stopped, these problems wouldn’t be an issue.
The Biden administration is facing legal challenges over the halt to wall construction. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, and Vice Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama demanded Wednesday that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) intervene on the funding Congress allocated for the wall construction. Biden wants to give it back to the Defense Department, where it was taken by the Trump administration. Republicans counter that this is against the law. They say Biden violated the Impoundment Control Act when it suspended border wall projects.
“The law does not permit the pause,” the senators wrote in the Wednesday letter on the basis that Biden never told Congress about a plan to cancel the funding amid his review of it or named a reason for delaying the funded projects.
If GAO issues an opinion, it could give Republicans grounds to sue Biden for holding up the projects, all while the southern border faces the highest number of illegal immigration attempts in 21 years.
“Current external factors — namely, the most acute immigration crisis in recent memory — support expediting work on the border wall system, not halting it,” Capito and Shelby wrote. “Each day this impoundment continues, funds lawfully appropriated for border wall construction are cynically under-executed and a reserve is growing.”
Biden’s halt to wall construction also leaves gaps in the border wall system. This is illogical given the flood of migrants crossing the southern border. It also interrupts regular repair activities.
“Incomplete installations have left gaps in the border wall system, both seen and unseen. Breaks in the physical infrastructure serve as funnels for illegal crossing, human trafficking, and drug smuggling; create environmental hazards; and unnecessarily tax our Border Patrol agents, who have to sit post at these breaks around the clock,” the letter states. “Additionally, ground sensing technology and cameras that enhance the operational effectiveness of the physical barriers await installation or, worse, are installed but not turned on.”
With record numbers of migrants crossing the southern border, now is no time to do anything that helps more to do the same. The people living in the area deserve to be protected from flooding. The rest of the wall should be built, too, but that won’t happen during this administration that favors open borders.