In a move that reverses prior Biden administration policy and effectively serves as a vindication of former President Donald Trump, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is seeking to waive 26 different federal laws in order to construct a section of border wall in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, as Fox News reports.
The administration's surprising about-face was revealed when DHS posted information on the Federal Register describing the construction planned for Starr County, Texas, a sector in which the agency said has witnessed more than 245,000 migrant encounters during the current fiscal year.
Claiming authority to waive upwards of 26 relevant federal laws in order to commence the aforementioned construction, Mayorkas outlined the rationale for the apparent change of heart.
He declared, “There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas pursuant to sections 102(a) and 102(b) of [the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996].
Notably, those plans stand in stark contrast to prior pledges made by then-candidate Joe Biden and also to steps taken almost immediately after he took office in the early part of 2021, as Fox News explained.
While on the campaign trail in 2020, Biden vowed that there would “not be another foot of all constructed on my administration” and his own White House officials later said that his predecessor's plans to build a border barrier was “just one example of the prior administration's misplaced priorities and failure to manage migration in a safe, orderly, and humane way.”
After news broke of the impending wall construction, the Biden administration attempted to deflect negative judgment from naysayers by stating that funds for the work had already been appropriated before he took office and that while he previously attempted to “redirect” them for other uses, Congress did not agree, essentially tying his hands and legally forcing him to proceed with the project.
Considering a recent, highly-publicized – and harshly critiqued – exacerbation of the influx at the southern border, which has reportedly seen 260,000 migrant encounters in September alone, it is not entirely surprising that the Biden administration felt compelled to act in a way previously not contemplated.
It is also unsurprising that the move has drawn accusations of gross hypocrisy from conservatives as well as from Trump himself, with his campaign issuing a statement saying, “President Trump is always right. That's why he built close to 500 miles of powerful new wall on the border, and it would have been finished by now.”
William Martin, communications director for Ohio Republican Sen. JD Vance, took to X to opine, “Joe Biden unleashed chaos at our border for 3 years. Now that [Biden is] staring down a massive loss to [Trump] in 2024 he thinks he can change his tune. It's disgusting – but it won't work. Joe Biden has zero credibility when it comes to securing the border.”
Collin Rugg of Trending Politics said of Biden's new initiative, “Remarkable. 4 years ago this was 'racist.' Now they're advocating for it.'”
Mercurial billionaire and X owner Elon Musk wryly mused, “How times have changed.”
Notably, Biden's decision was also the target of liberal ire, with Democrat former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke blasting the move as “impotent political posturing,” as The Hill notes.
Asserting that “walls don't work,” O'Rourke also claimed that wall construction will make it hard for voters to make distinctions between border policies offered by Biden and those championed by Trump but given the disastrous scenes Americans have watched unfold during the entirety of the current president's tenure, the sort of naive confusion he predicts seems far from likely.