US Clears Way for Texas Border Wall Construction
Facing the fresh surge of undocumented migrants influx, the White House will waive 26 federal laws to allow border wall construction in Starr County, southern Texas, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Wednesday, Oct, 4.
The Department of Homeland Security said that the construction in Starr County, which is part of a busy Border Patrol sector seeing “high illegal entry,” will help curb the tide of unlawful migration into the United States.
According to U.S. government data, nearly 250,000 illegal entries have been recorded so far this fiscal year in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, which contains 21 counties.
Starr County’s hilly ranchlands, sitting between Zapata and McAllen, Texas, is home to about 65,000 residents sparsely populating about 1,200 square miles that form part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
“After years of denying that a border wall and other physical barriers are effective, the DHS announcement represents a sea change in the administration’s thinking: A secure wall is an effective tool for maintaining control of our borders,” Dan Stein, chief of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said in a statement.
“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,” added Alejandro Mayorkas, the DHS secretary.
The piecemeal construction will add up to an additional 20 miles ¿to the existing border barrier system in the area, local media reported.
During the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, about 450 miles ( of barriers were built along the southwest U.S.-Mexico border between 2017 and January 2021.
The Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Endangered Species Act were some of the federal laws waived by DHS to make way for construction that will use funds from a congressional appropriation in 2019 for border wall construction. The waivers avoid time-consuming reviews and lawsuits challenging violation of environmental laws.
Political proponents of the border wall said the waivers should be used as a launching pad for a shift in policy.