Mohave County
May 2024
Volume 24 Issue 3

Oct 2023 | October 2023

Biden administration announced the waiving of 26 federal laws to facilitate border wall construction in South Texas

October 2023

October 2023

NATION – The Biden administration has announced the waiving of 26 federal laws to facilitate border wall construction in South Texas, marking a significant shift in policy. This move, announced on October 4, 2023, represents the administration’s first utilization of an executive power frequently employed during the Trump era.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made the announcement, detailing plans for construction in Starr County, Texas. This region, part of a busy Border Patrol sector, has witnessed “high illegal entry,” with approximately 245,000 illegal entries recorded in the current fiscal year.
Alejandro Mayorkas, the DHS Secretary, emphasized the “acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads” near the U.S. border to prevent unlawful entries. To expedite the construction process, the DHS has waived several federal laws, including the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. These waivers bypass time-consuming reviews and potential lawsuits challenging environmental law violations.
Starr County, located between Zapata and McAllen, Texas, is characterized by hilly ranchlands and is home to the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The proposed construction is expected to add approximately 20 miles to the existing border barrier system in the area.
Environmental advocates have expressed concerns about the potential impact on public lands and endangered species, particularly the Ocelot, a spotted wild cat. Laiken Jordahl, a conservation advocate, highlighted the potential damage to wildlife habitats and migrations.
Historically, the Trump administration constructed about 450 miles of barriers along the southwest border between 2017 and January 2021. Texas Governor Greg Abbott resumed these efforts after President Biden initially halted them. The recent DHS decision contrasts with the Biden administration’s earlier stance, which described a massive wall spanning the entire southern border as “not a serious policy solution.”
The decision has sparked political debate, with some viewing it as a necessary measure for border security and others criticizing it as wasteful and ineffective.
While the recent decision focuses on Texas, the broader issue of border security and immigration has significant implications for Arizona. As a border state, Arizona has long grappled with challenges related to immigration, border security, and the environmental impact of barrier construction. The Biden administration’s decision to continue border wall construction may influence similar decisions in Arizona and shape the state’s approach to border security in the coming years.

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