Biden Defends Use Of Pre-Allocated Funds For Extending Texas Border Wall

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Oct 07, 2023 - 12:05 AM

Authored by Savannah Hulsey Pointer via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

President Joe Biden defended his administration's decision to waive federal statutes in South Texas to allow for the construction of 20 miles of U.S.-Mexico border wall, stating on Oct. 5 he had no choice but to use previously approved federal funds for the project.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the administration's efforts to cancel student debt at the White House on Oct. 4, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

President Biden said that he had tried to "redirect" the money from the border wall project—allocation under the Trump administration.

"The money was appropriated for the border wall. I tried to get them to reappropriate, to redirect that money," President Biden said in his address. "They didn’t. They wouldn’t. In the meantime, there’s nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated for. I can’t stop that," he said.

When the president was asked a follow-up question about whether he thought the border wall was effective, he replied with a firm "no."

Similarly, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre offered a clear answer to reporters about the administration's stance during an Oct. 5 press briefing, saying: "We believe there are better, effective ways to secure the border.

"We asked Congress to reappropriate the fund, but they refused to do it. We need better technology, not a wall."

When asked repeatedly about the issue, the press secretary seemed frustrated, insisting that the president has been consistent in his approach to border security.

White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt later said in a post on X, formerly Twitter: "The funds for 20 miles of border reinforcements were appropriated in 2019 before [Biden] took office.

"He called on Congress to reappropriate the funds for smarter, more effective enforcement uses. Congress failed to do so," LeBolt added.

"Rule of law requires the project be completed in 2023."

Announced Changes

The Biden administration announced on Oct. 5 that 26 federal laws were waved in South Texas to allow border wall construction, signaling the administration's first use of broad executive power to pave the way for building more border barriers.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted the announcement on the U.S. Federal Registry with few specifics regarding the construction in Starr County, Texas, which is part of a Border Patrol sector with "high illegal entry."

DHS has waived a number of federal rules—including the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act—in order to begin construction using 2019 appropriations from Congress to build a wall along the southern border.

Environmental law violations that could otherwise be reviewed and possibly litigated are waived.

The announcement did not include any maps, but one that was made public during the comment period showed that the construction might extend the current border barrier system by as much as 20 miles.

About 450 miles of barriers were constructed along the southwest border between 2017 and January 2021, all under the Trump administration.

After the Biden administration temporarily halted them at the beginning of his presidency, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revived them as part of his immigration crackdown at the state level.

The DHS's decision on Oct. 4 stands in stark contrast to the rhetoric of the administration, which declared a stop to construction on Jan. 20, 2021, arguing that "building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution."

Border Insecurity

A recent report by El Paso's Mayor Oscar Leeser indicates that the border city is "at a breaking point" amid a massive increase in illegal immigration.

The dramatic increase has brought them to a point where more than 2,000 people a day are seeking asylum, exceeding shelter capacity and straining resources, according to Mr. Leeser's comments at a news conference in late September.

The influx of primarily Venezuelan asylum seekers is part of a larger influx of illegal immigrants who traveled perilous bus and freight railroad routes to Mexican border towns near San Diego, California, and the Texas cities of El Paso and Eagle Pass.

Mr. Lesser stated that El Paso intends to open a new shelter and chartered five buses on Oct. 7 to transport illegal immigrants to New York, Chicago, and Denver.

Similarly, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared an "invasion" at the southern border due to the surge in illegal immigration, pointing at President Biden's policies and ordering the National Guard and law enforcement to assist with the crisis.

"I officially declared an invasion at our border because of Biden's policies," Mr. Abbott wrote in a post on X, on Sept. 20.

"We deployed the Texas National Guard, DPS, and local law enforcement. We are building a border wall, razor wire, and marine barriers. We are also repelling migrants."

The governor's office has also deployed more buses to ship illegal migrants to sanctuary cities, such as New York and Chicago, saying the state is "at capacity."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.