Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told department employees he is hoping to restart border wall construction to plug what he called “gaps” in the current barrier. FYI: The Trump administration signed a contract for 300 more miles, and if it doesn’t get built, the contractors will still have to be paid.
Washington Times In a conversation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees last week Mr. Mayorkas was asked about his plans for the wall and he said that while President 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.”
Mr. Trump left office with about 460 miles of border wall completed, funded by a mixture of money Congress specifically approved and money Mr. Trump siphoned from Pentagon accounts after declaring a national emergency.
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.
That a question about the wall came from employees at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which handles interior enforcement and deportation rather than border matters, shows just how deeply the wall has penetrated the psychology of Homeland Security. It’s sparked fierce devotees — including Border Patrol agents themselves and rabid opponents among Democrats.
But with Mr. Trump out of office, the public is swinging back toward the wall, with a recent poll conducted for the Senate Opportunity Fund showing 53% now favor construction.
President Biden, however, remains an opponent, despite voting as a senator for 700 miles of border fencing and being part of the Obama administration that constructed more than 100 of those miles. He vowed last year that he wouldn’t build “one more foot” of wall and on Inauguration Day he imposed a full stop on construction.
The Washington Times reported last month that the halt left holes in the wall in Cochise County, Arizona, where miles of road were already finished but the wall was not. The county sheriff 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.
The Washington Times reported in January that experts on congressional and presidential powers said Mr. Biden’s halt likely violated what’s known as the Impoundment Control Act. Congress over the last four years has allocated $1.375 billion each year for the wall, including in this current fiscal year. Mr. Biden has not submitted a request to rescind that money.
In fact, Customs and Border Protection said in early January, still during the Trump administration, that it had finalized plans to build about 300 more miles, and much of that was already under contract. Mr. Trump said that contractors will have to be paid out over wall that was already signed off on, but no longer will be built. Mr. Morgan, the former CBP chief, has estimated those costs could reach billions of dollars.