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Biden administration waives 26 federal laws allowing border wall construction in South Texas


The Biden administration will waive 26 laws aimed at building additional border barriers in the Rio Grande Valley, according to a notice published Wednesday in the Federal Register, citing “high illegal entry.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a document published in the US Federal Register that the Department of Homeland Security has concluded “that it is necessary to waive certain laws, regulations and other legal requirements in order to ensure the rapid construction of barriers and roads.” in Starr County, Texas, along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Federal officials are grappling with a new wave of migrants that has strained federal resources and fueled concerns in cities across the country. Mayorkas called the Rio Grande Valley area an area of ​​“high illegal entry.” The Border Patrol reported nearly 300,000 encounters in the Rio Grande Valley sector between last October and August, according to federal data.

Construction of the wall, according to the notice, will be funded through a 2019 appropriations bill that funneled money specifically toward a “border barrier” in the Rio Grande Valley, and according to Mayorkas, ” DHS is required to use these funds for their appropriate purpose. »

“There is currently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads near the United States border in order to prevent illegal entries into the United States in the project areas,” Mayorkas said in the notice.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection previously announced plans to design and construct up to 20 miles of new border barrier systems in Starr County, including light poles and lighting, gates , cameras and access roads, among other systems. CBP solicited public input between August and September, according to the agency.

Among the laws the Biden administration is bypassing to build the wall are many of the same laws the administration has tried to protect in the past, including: the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act of disappearance, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (the Clean Water Act). Water Act) and the Clean Air Act.

A CBP spokesperson said the agency “remains committed to protecting the nation’s cultural and natural resources” while implementing “sound environmental practices” to construct the border barriers.

This week, Mayorkas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Attorney General Merrick Garland and White House Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall will meet with their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City for annual security talks .

Migration should be a topic of discussion. Senior administration officials say the United States is in regular contact with Mexico about the situation at the U.S. southern border, including pledging to step up enforcement.

This story has been updated with additional information.


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