The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Monday that it will waive dozens of laws and regulations in order to rapidly build sections of border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The decision comes as the administration faces growing pressure to secure the border and address the influx of illegal immigration.
In an announcement on the U.S. Federal Register, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated that the situation at the border allows the administration the legal right to waive certain laws and regulations. This is in response to the dire conditions at the southern border, where nearly a quarter of a million illegal aliens were apprehended in August alone.
Mayorkas stressed that the administration’s open border policies have contributed to the overwhelming number of illegal border crossings. In order to prevent more unlawful entries into the U.S., the administration has designated multiple areas within the Rio Grande Valley Sector as “project areas” for the construction of physical barriers and roads.
To hasten construction, the administration plans to waive 26 laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Air Act. These waivers will allow DHS to expedite the construction of new barriers in areas of high illegal entry. The federal agency also plans to replace old barriers with new ones in other areas of the border.
Under the previous administration, 450 miles of border wall were built along the southwest border. However, the majority of this construction replaced existing barriers. The Trump administration also built 85 miles of new primary and secondary walls in areas that previously had no barriers, according to a press release from the Trump campaign.
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As illegal immigration continues to rise, the Biden administration faces mounting criticism for its border policies. The decision to waive laws and regulations to expedite construction may be seen as a response to these criticisms. It also highlights the ongoing challenges at the border and the need for immediate action to address the situation.
If construction moves forward, it will mark the first time the Biden administration has made any significant effort to secure the border. The announcement serves as a reminder that the administration has yet to fully address this pressing issue, despite facing widespread criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
As the construction of new border barriers continues, it remains to be seen whether the Biden administration will implement additional measures to further deter illegal immigration. For now, the waiver of laws and regulations is a significant step towards addressing the ongoing crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.