Trump demands apology from Biden as Democratic president waives federal laws to build border wall
The Biden administration added it is waiving 26 federal laws to allow border construction, a watershed moment in which the president is using his executive power to control immigration
October 6, 2023 9:07am
Updated: October 6, 2023 9:10am
As illegal immigration hits a breaking point across the United States, Democratic President Joe Biden has resorted to adopting one of his predecessor’s policies, which he campaigned vehemently against—construction of a border wall.
The administration announced this week it will construct a section of border wall in southern Texas in an effort to combat the rising levels of illegal immigration and stop border crossers. The new border barriers will consist of gates and large bollards embedded in a concrete base loaded with cameras and CCTV equipment, according to widespread media reports.
The Biden administration added it is waiving 26 federal laws to allow border construction, a watershed moment in which the president is using his executive power to control immigration.
Biden’s move has been widely hailed by Republicans as a concession of failed immigration policies, but it got even a more bitter rebuke from former President Donald Trump who vowed to build the wall during his administration from 2017-2021.
Trump asked if Biden would “apologize to me and America for taking so long to get moving. So interesting to watch Crooked Joe Biden break every environmental law in the book to prove that I was right,” he wrote on his Truth social media platform. “I will await his apology.”
Despite Trump’s efforts, funding for the southwest border wall was slow-rolled and ultimately obstructed by Democrats in Congress. The former president ultimately built 50 miles of new wall and upgraded 400 miles of deteriorating border barriers that needed repair work.
Some of the federal laws waived include the Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, angering environmentalists, who say the new border wall sections will disrupt habitats of endangered plants and animals.
“It's disheartening to see President Biden stoop to this level, casting aside our nation's bedrock environmental laws to build ineffective wildlife-killing border walls,” said Laiken Jordahl, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.
As migration levels have skyrocketed, southern governors such as Greg Abbott in Texas and Ron DeSantis in Florida began bussing illegal border crossers to Democratic cities across the nation including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, in an effort to even out the housing and economic burden.
While Democratic leaders from those areas have lashed out at Abbott and DeSantis, they have also begun directing their fury toward the White House, placing pressure on Biden to resolve the issue once and for all.
The Biden administration is currently aiming to build a new wall about 20 miles in Starr County, Texas along its border with Mexico, where U.S. officials are reporting high levels of illegal border crossings.
The move is a stunning act of surrender on behalf of Biden since the longtime Democratic veteran senator vowed not to build another foot of wall if elected during the 2020 presidential race.
In fact, the newly elected 46th president was so determined to use the wall issue as a symbol of the power transition in Washington, that after taking power, his administration issued a proclamation asserting that building a wall along the southwest border “is not a serious policy solution.”
Biden has asserted he is not adopting Trump era policies willingly, and asserted on Thursday he “can’t stop” the construction of the border wall because the funding for it had already been appropriated.
When the Delaware native was asked whether he thinks the wall will help hamper illegal immigration, he beamed, “no.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has corroborated the funding was from the last administration, but the head of its parent agency, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas previously conceded the barrier would help.
“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,” Alejandro Mayorkas, the DHS secretary, said in a notice about the project on the U.S. Federal Registry.
CBP confirmed the funding was from the prior administration.
“Congress appropriated fiscal year 2019 funds for the construction of border barrier in the Rio Grande Valley, and DHS is required to use those funds for their appropriated purpose,” the federal agency said in a statement to the Associated Press Wednesday night.
Neighboring Latin American leaders have criticized construction of the wall since the Trump era and continue to do so under Biden.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lashed out at the announcement, saying that building a border barrier is “contrary” to what Biden supported all along. He attributed the move however more to resistance Biden is facing from the right.
“I understand there is strong pressure from extreme right-wing political groups in the United States,” he said.
López Obrador also added that 10,000 people arrived at the border every single day last week.
The rising number of illegal border crossings has seriously impacted Biden’s presidency, and could potentially be a hallmark of his legacy.
Some areas in Arizona, California and Texas have faced stunning surges of illegal border crossings, placing authorities and nearby residents in desperate situations as crime has risen and resources have become scarce.
Data shows that more than 245,000 crossings have been made this year in the Texas Rio Grande Valley area alone, and authorities are expecting September’s totals to break records.
Several cities with Democratic mayors have complained about the relocation of migrants to their cities. One of those cities, New York, is bound by its own sanctuary city favorable laws, which compel authorities to provide food and shelter for undocumented migrants.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently said the situation had become unsustainable, complaining that,
the housing cost for the more than 100,000 migrants who have arrived since last year will cost $12 billion over the next three years.
Adams is travelling to Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico this week in a desperate, last ditch effort to ask migrants to cease and desist.
“We are at capacity," he said on Tuesday.
Biden has continued to face criticism from both Republicans and Democrats in his own party as the crisis continues.
In August the Border Patrol apprehended 181,059 people along the southern border compared to 132,648 in July, according to recent data.