President Joe Biden entered office in January with a focus on reversing his predecessor’s policies, including an order to cancel the national emergency declared by former President Donald Trump along the U.S.-Mexico border.
That action mandated that the ongoing construction of a border wall immediately halt, though the Biden administration is apparently reconsidering its stance.
“Partially excavated at various levels”
Less than four months into his term, construction was reportedly approved in one particular section of the border where work was needed to fill in gaps in a levee system.
According to the Washington Examiner, the segment of the border in question stretches for more than 13 miles along the Rio Grande Valley in Texas where the fencing system is composed of two distinct parts: an upper bollard section designed to prevent scaling and a lower section of levees aimed at forestalling floods.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local communities had raised concerns about the threat of flooding and construction vehicles came in to clear gaps in the lower levee section of the wall.
It is worth noting that the upper section is not expected to be completed in the current construction project, so the threat of flooding will be mitigated while the immigration matter will not.
“In support of [Customs and Border Protection’s] border infrastructure program, USACE has resumed [Department of Homeland Security]-funded design & construction support on approx. 13.4 miles of levee in the Rio Grande Valley that were partially excavated at various levels of construction when work on the wall was paused for review,” the corps explained in a statement.
“Started critical work”
A Corps of Engineers spokesperson confirmed that the Biden administration had “started critical work to repair the Rio Grande Valley’s flood levee, which was excavated to make way for border wall” and that the “remediation work” currently taking place “will not involve expanding border barrier.”
Last month, The Washington Times reported that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had considered resuming a portion of the border wall’s construction, particularly to plug some gaps left when Biden abruptly halted all activity.
A number of top border and immigration officials reportedly urged Mayorkas to approve some level of construction. Congress explicitly authorized as much as $1.4 billion to be spent on the border wall and unless Biden takes action to formally rescind the funds, they must still be spent as intended.
Another report from last month indicated that the Biden administration returned funds diverted out of military construction projects by Biden’s order, fueling further speculation that border wall construction will resume to some extent.
Although Biden has loudly condemned Trump’s policies, some of the remaining work on the border wall has proven critical. Whether he likes it or not, it appears the current president will have no choice but to finish some of the work started by his predecessor.