White House to fill gaps in Trump’s border wall after Biden pledges not to build any more

The White House is completing other sections of former President Donald Trump’s border wall, with the Department of Homeland Security closing four gaps in the barrier near Yuma, Ariz., that have become a major passageway for migrants.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday authorized Customs and Border Protection to seal the openings near the Morelos Dam, just west of downtown Yuma.

The department said the area “presents risks to the safety and lives of migrants attempting to enter the United States where there is a risk of drowning and injury from falls. This area also poses a risk to the lives and safety of first responders and officers responding to incidents in this area.

The dam sits in a section of the border that runs north-south along the Colorado River before turning into an east-west lane at the California-Arizona border.

Border authorities have reported 235,230 migrant encounters in the Yuma Border Patrol Sector since Oct. 1 last year. Only the Del Rio (326,177) and Rio Grande Valley (377,194) areas reported more encounters during the same period.

One of the gaps in the wall near Morelos Dam in Yuma, Arizona.
AFP via Getty Images

President Biden ordered a halt to construction of the border wall shortly after taking office in January 2021. While the move was welcomed by liberal activists, it also left holes in the barrier that, according to critics — including Biden’s fellow Democrats — have been exploited by individual, humane migrants. traffickers smuggling groups of people across the border.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeatedly insisted on Friday that the Biden administration was not “finishing” the border wall, which Trump declared a national emergency in 2019 to build before to later secure congressional appropriations for the project.

“Why is the Biden administration building a border wall in Arizona?” Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked Jean-Pierre during his regular briefing.

“We are not finishing the wall,” replied Jean-Pierre. “We are cleaning up the mess left by the previous administration in its failed attempt to build a wall.”

“But President Biden, when he was a candidate, said, ‘There won’t be another foot of wall built in my administration,'” Doocy insisted, referencing a statement by the Democrat in August 2020.” So what has changed?”

“We are not finishing the wall,” repeated Jean-Pierre.

Doocy continued, “If the walls are working in this part of Arizona, is it the administration trying to smuggle migrants somewhere else, like Texas? What purpose?”

Jean-Pierre replied again: “We are not finishing the wall. We are cleaning up the mess the previous administration made. We are trying to save lives. This is what the previous administration left behind and what we are cleaning up.

“When you finish the wall, do you…” Doocy continued.

“We’re not finishing the wall,” interrupted Jean-Pierre.

“Filling in, finishing -” Doocy said.

“We are not finishing the wall”, still challenged Jean-Pierre.

” By filling [the wall], is that racist? Doocy asked cheekily. “Because in 2019, when the former guy [Trump] proposed a wall, you said it was his racist wall. So how is it different? »

“I don’t even know how you get [from] your first question to this question you just asked me,” said Jean-Pierre. “A border wall is an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars…Just recently, CBP reported that new bollard fences along the southwest border were breached 3,272 times between fiscal years 2019 and 2021, requiring repairs of $2.6 million. It’s inefficient. We are not finishing the wall. We are cleaning up the mess the last administration made.

A day earlier, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) praised DHS for closing the openings.

“For too long, the Morelos Dam area has been an operational challenge for Border Patrol agents to properly secure the border and keep our communities safe,” Kelly said in a statement.

Migrants climb an outlet drain at the Morelos dam in April 2022.
Migrants climb an outlet drain at the Morelos dam in April 2022.
James Keivom

“I’m glad the Department of Homeland Security has listened to Arizona and will address these shortcomings,” Kelly added. “This is a step forward and I will continue to work to ensure Arizona has the tools necessary for a safe and orderly border process, including fencing and barriers where they make sense.”

Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls, a Republican, also hailed the move, calling it “an important first step in getting this border crisis under control, supporting our law enforcement, and keeping border communities safe.”

The project will be funded by DHS appropriations for fiscal year 2021 – which were approved under the Trump administration.

Border authorities have reported 235,230 migrant encounters in the Yuma Border Patrol Sector since Oct. 1 last year.
Border authorities have reported 235,230 migrant encounters in the Yuma Border Patrol Sector since Oct. 1 last year.
James Keivom

Earlier this month, the department approved the construction of a similar border wall to replace a “deteriorating barrier” located near Friendship Transfrontier Park in Imperial Beach, California.

In December of last year, Mayorkas awarded funding to close unfinished construction gaps that would “meet life, safety, environmental and sanitation requirements for border barrier projects” in California, Arizona and in Texas.

The decision to close openings in Yuma comes as a record number of migrants have tried to cross into the United States.

June was the fourth consecutive month in which border authorities encountered more than 200,000 migrants (207,416). It also brought the total number of shutdowns recorded since October 1 to 1,746,119 – the most of any fiscal year since 1960.


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