The Biden administration is considering a return to construction of the southern border wall, in order to fill in “gaps” made all the more glaring by the sudden immigration crisis, according to a report.
In a conversation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees last week Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was asked about his plans for the wall who stated that while Joe Biden has canceled the border emergency and halted Pentagon money flowing to the wall, “that leaves room to make decisions” on finishing some “gaps in the wall.”
“The president has communicated quite clearly his decision that the emergency that triggered the devotion of DOD funds to the construction of the border wall is ended,” the DHS secretary reportedly told the group.
“But that leaves room to make decisions as the administration, as part of the administration, in particular areas of the wall that need renovation, particular projects that need to be finished.”
Some of that, Mayorkas said, would include “gaps,” “gates” and areas “where the wall has been completed but the technology has not been implemented.”
Mark Morgan, who served as acting commissioner of CBP under President Trump, said Mr. Mayorkas’ comments were “more spin and misdirection.”
He said CBP has always given the administration options for how to proceed on the wall.
The new wall is more than just the steel slats. Officials describe it as a system, one that includes technology to allow agents to detect incursions and high-speed roads to allow them to reach trouble spots faster so that agents can interdict anyone who does make it over.
Cochise County Arizona Sheriff Mark Dannels said smugglers were using the road as their own highway, helping them get their illegal cargo, whether people or drugs, deeper into the country faster.
“We just built roads for the cartels,” he said. “In my county, Santa Cruz, and parts of Pima, what they’re doing is they’re smuggling. The cartels, they’re evading us [and] eluding us. [They’re doing] whatever it takes to get through us”.
While he and his deputies are working to stop smugglers alongside federal agencies, he and all other members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council got a letter from DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas telling them they would no longer be on the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) along with all other members.
“It was unexpected. I had no formal warning this will be coming. And what’s unique about this is the fact that since the inception of HSAC, nobody’s ever been dismissed. This is the first time,” said Dannels.
Sheriff Dannels was appointed to the council in 2018. He thinks now more than ever, the council’s advice is needed.
“There are great challenges and to take away that experience that leadership that represents local, State, Federal– the timing is, it’s insulting to the American people. Were not there as politicians in the political fashion, but in a way that can help this administration, move forward,” he explained.
The more than 171,000 illegal immigrants taken into Customs and Border Protection custody in March is the highest monthly total since 2006, according to the preliminary figures obtained by the Post. CBP arrested nearly 19,000 unaccompanied illegal minors, surpassing the previous monthly high of around 11,800 recorded in May 2019.
Former President Donald Trump celebrated the possible pivot by the Biden administration, calling on his successor to finish construction because the wall is “almost complete”.
“I think it’s great that they reversed themselves, but a lot of damage was done because we were gonna have that wall almost complete. You know, it delayed two and a half years because of lawsuits,” Trump said in a Tuesday interview on Newsmax.
“We started building it and we were almost finished and then they called an end to it. And it’s, you know, just incredible. But if they agree that they’re going to complete it — there’s very little to complete. If they agree that they’re going to complete it, that’s a great thing. That’s a very positive step.”
Trump said it was “terrible” to see images of unaccompanied children detained at the US-Mexico border during an ongoing surge of illegal crossings.
“We just had to fix little sections,” he told Fox News last month.
The Biden administration’s undoing of Trump’s border policies has prompted a flood of Central American and Mexican illegal migrants at the US border, including thousands of unescorted children.
Central Americans looking for refuge from the Northern Triangle countries — El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — have taken these policy moves, as well as the overwhelmingly more welcoming tone from Democrats, as a sign that this president is inviting them to cross the border.
Insisting that the border was not facing a crisis, Mayorkas said in early March that the problems the agency faced should be blamed on the previous administration.
The data, however, overwhelmingly shows that migrants were flooding the border because they believed Biden would welcome them with open arms.
Late last month, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador blamed the new president for the crisis, arguing that the “expectations” he set left migrants with the perception that they would be let into the US.