(The Hill) — The Biden administration announced Wednesday that 26 federal laws were waived to allow border wall construction in Texas, marking the administration’s first use of an executive power often used by former President Donald Trump to fund projects along the southern border.
The waived laws will help expedite the construction of barriers and roads in Starr County, Texas, which is experiencing “high illegal entry,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement posted to the U.S. Federal Registry.
The U.S. Border Patrol saw more than 245,000 people in the last fiscal year try to enter the United States in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, the DHS said, citing data from August.
“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,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in the statement.
Some of the waived federal laws include the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and Safe Water Drinking Act to prevent lengthy reviews and lawsuits challenging the violation of such laws, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
The construction will be funded by a congressional appropriation passed in 2019, where Congress set aside funding for the construction of the border barrier in the Rio Grande Valley. DHS is required to use those funds for the appropriated purpose.
During his presidency, Trump diverted billions in defense and military construction funds toward building a wall, a central focus of the former president’s 2016 campaign. Trump was then forced to use emergency powers instead after Congress refused to fully fund the project.
Shortly into his administration in 2021, Biden canceled the state of emergency Trump declared on the southern border and later slashed projects to build the wall. The funds were redirected back to their original purpose or toward repairing environmental damage from the wall’s construction.
Trump took to social media Thursday morning, saying he will “await” Biden’s apology.
“So interesting to watch Crooked Joe Biden break every environmental law in the book to prove that I was right when I built 560 miles (they incorrectly state 450 in story!) of brand new, beautiful border wall,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post.
“As I have stated often, over thousands of years, there are only two things that have consistently worked, wheels, and walls!” he continued. “Will Joe Biden appolgize to me and America for taking so long to get moving, and allowing our country to be flooded with 15 million illegals immigrants, from places unknown. I will await his apology!”
The news comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other American leaders are expected to visit Mexico to address concerns of security, drug and arms trafficking and steepening migration.