Joe Biden promised he wouldn’t build “one more foot” of Donald Trump’s border wall, but according to a new report, his administration is gearing up to do just that.
Biden’s position on the border wall during his campaign last year was clear: he wouldn’t build “one more foot” of Trump’s wall, a signature policy of the former president. After his inauguration in January, Biden followed through, immediately halting construction on the wall and firing off a slew of executive orders to overturn Trump’s hardline immigration policies.
These decisions directly preceded a surge in illegal border crossings, one that the Biden administration was ill-prepared to handle. Numbers of children held in makeshift “jail-like” facilities soared to record levels, and illegal crossings this year are on track to hit a two-decade high, not including countless migrants who evade border agents.
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Against this background, Biden could be about to renege on his campaign-trail promise. In a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials last week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that his department may restart construction, in order to fill in some “gaps in the wall.”
That’s according to a readout of the meeting seen by the Washington Times, a conservative-leaning news site. According to the report, Mayorkas told the ICE officials that while no new wall will be built, the Biden administration can still work on “gaps,” “gates,” and areas “where the wall has been completed but the technology has not been implemented.”
US Border Patrol officials reportedly presented Mayorkas with the plan.
Conservatives mocked Biden when they heard the news, jeering him for his apparent 180 on the wall.
It appears that "President" Biden is a racist xenophobe who hates brown people.
Their rules. https://t.co/WQ4gUf6U4q
— Matthew Kolken (@mkolken) April 6, 2021
I didn't know The Wall was part of Biden's infrastructure plan.
— ⚡Sιr Mαχιмυs Ɗeploяaвιlιѕ⚡ (@Maximus_4EVR) April 6, 2021
Prediction: Biden will recast the border wall as a bird nesting facility and the press will praise him for it. https://t.co/D93eEp8JAk
— BDW (@BryanDeanWright) April 6, 2021
Last month, a group of Republican lawmakers wrote to the Government Accountability Office asking the agency to investigate Biden’s freeze on wall construction. As $1.4 billion in funding for the wall was approved by Congress in December, the Republicans argued that it was not Biden’s place to stop it being spent. However, Biden’s executive order said that this money could be redirected to other border security projects, which Mayorkas’ plan may fall under.
Stymied by court battles and funding blocks by Congress, Trump fell short of walling off the US’ 2,000-mile border with Mexico. However, by pulling some funds from the military and persuading Congress to part with just over $1.3 billion per year for the last four years, his administration managed to construct 400 miles of steel wall. Some of this, however, replaced older fencing and barriers.
Joe Biden was not always such a tireless opponent of sealing the US border, and tightening up border security was something both parties mostly agreed on before Trump took office.
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As a senator, Biden voted in 2006 for the Secure Fence Act, which funded 650 miles of steel fencing and vehicle barriers along the border. The act passed both houses of Congress with bipartisan support, and was signed into law by George W. Bush that October.
Biden said at the time that his vote did “not have anything to do with immigration,” but was aimed at stopping the flow of drugs across the border. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were also among the 26 Senate Democrats who backed the bill.
Even before Mayorkas’ meeting, Trump himself was badgering Biden to reinstate his immigration policies and take up where he left off. “The only way to end the Biden Border Crisis is for them to admit their total failure and adopt the profoundly effective, proven Trump policies,” he wrote last month, adding that “they must immediately complete the wall.”
Whatever is happening about redirecting funds to fill gaps, the likelihood of Biden finishing Trump’s border wall in its entirety is slim to zero.
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