‘This is not a policy decision’
Miranda told CNA that the new wall construction does not indicate a policy change by the Biden administration and that it is being carried out using funds specifically appropriated for the wall under the Trump administration.
“This is not a policy decision,” the spokesperson said, noting that “the administration repeatedly called on Congress to cancel or reappropriate remaining border barrier funding and instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border.”
He explained that the wall construction in Starr County does not indicate any plans to build additional walls.
Likewise, a spokesperson for CBP told CNA that “Congress appropriated fiscal year 2019 funds for the construction of border barrier in the Rio Grande Valley” and that the “DHS is required to use those funds for their appropriated purpose.”
The CBP spokesperson said that this project is still “consistent with DHS’s plan to fulfill the requirements of President Biden’s proclamation,” which “ended the diversion of funds for border wall from military projects or other sources.”
The project is utilizing an estimated $190 million remaining from the $1.375 billion originally appropriated in 2019, according to the CBP.
The wall is being made in the same manner as constructed during the Trump administration, using 18-foot steel bollard fence panels placed in concrete jersey barriers.
Border communities and cities overwhelmed by migrants
The impact of the record numbers, which has long been felt by border communities and states, has also begun to take a toll on cities across the U.S.
“This issue will destroy New York City,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said of the migrant surge during a Sept. 6 town hall.
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Leaders in other major U.S. cities including Chicago, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles have expressed exasperation at the continued crisis in recent weeks and months.
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who says he has bused more than 50,000 migrants to sanctuary cities, said in an X post Thursday that “these cities experience a fraction of what Texas border communities face daily.”
Among the laws the Biden administration had to waive to build the additional wall were the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
The CBP spokesperson said that they remain “committed to protecting the nation’s cultural and natural resources and will implement sound environmental practices as part of the project covered by this waiver.”
Yet environmental advocates in south Texas have a very different story to tell.