President Biden on Wednesday approved building 20 miles of new wall along the Texas-Mexico border where officials report a high number of crossings.
To allow the wall’s construction—a signature policy of former President Trump that’s been fiercely opposed by Democrats—Biden is waiving 26 federal laws in south Texas. Among them are the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
The announcement of the new section of wall, in Starr County, Texas, was posted on the U.S. Federal Registry by the Department of Homeland Security.
According to DHS data, about 245,000 illegal crossings have been recorded so far this fiscal year in the 21 counties of the Rio Grande Valley Sector.
“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,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says in the notice.
During his Presidential campaign in 2020, Biden promised he would not build another foot of wall if elected. Once in office, his Administration passed a proclamation saying that building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was “not a serious policy solution.”
In a statement to the Associated Press Wednesday evening, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) defended building the 20-mile section, noting that its funding is coming from money already allocated for a border barrier.
During the Trump Administration, 450 miles of border wall was constructed.