The Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that it would add an additional 20 miles to our nation’s border wall, thus further strengthening the integrity of our national borders. This decision aligns with a major campaign commitment made by former President Donald Trump.
The necessity of this construction stems from the stipulations outlined in the 2019 appropriations bill. This bill, which allocated funds specifically for enhancing border security through wall construction, left the department with no alternative but to proceed.
With $190 million of these funds remaining unallocated, President Biden faced potential legal implications if action was not taken to apply these resources toward border wall construction by the September deadline.
“Until and unless Congress cancels these funds, the law requires DHS to use the funds consistent with their appropriated purpose,” Customs and Border Protection said in an unsigned statement announcing the new construction.
The move marks a significant retreat for Mr. Biden, who during the 2020 campaign had vowed there would “not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.”
CBP said the new construction will take place in the Border Patrol’s Yuma and El Centro sectors, which cover southeastern California and southwestern Arizona.
The wall will be an 18-foot steel bollard design, which is what was allowed by the 2019 spending bill and is, CBP said, “the most operationally effective design.”
Along with the fence panels, the department will also add lighting, access roads and sensors to detect illegal crossings. The Trump team had called that package the “wall system,” and said it was all critical to defending the border.
Mr. Trump left office having erected more than 450 miles of fencing, with most of that replacing outdated designs. But the Trump team was delinquent in building the roads and add-ons for the wall system. The Government Accountability Office said in 2021 that less than 69 miles of the full wall system were built.
The audit said the government rushed to erect the panels to meet Mr. Trump’s campaign promises but skimped on the other aspects of the system.
“While the wall panels are typically the most costly part of border barrier construction, the full wall system remains incomplete,” GAO said.
When Mr. Trump left office, CBP had plans and funding to build more than 200 additional miles of wall.
That was halted by Mr. Biden on his first day in office.
He first returned money Mr. Trump has siphoned away from the Defense Department to use for wall building, then pleaded with Congress to cancel the rest of the money Congress had actually allocated to the wall.
Those efforts failed, and some of the money allocated in 2019, 2020, and 2021 remains in the pipeline.
In 2019, for example, Congress allocated $1.375 billion. Homeland Security said $190 million remains and must be spent on the wall.
“DHS remains committed to the protection of the environment and will conduct environmental surveys, analyze the potential for environmental impacts from the implementation of the projects, and develop measures that avoid or minimize impacts to the greatest extent possible,” the department said.