The Department of Homeland Security will use congressional funding to close unfinished construction gaps along the southern border wall and clean up construction sites in California, Arizona, and Texas — but will not build any additional sections of the barrier.
On Monday, the department announced the money would be used to “address life, safety, environmental, and remediation requirements for border barrier projects” in the San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso and Del Rio Sectors. The border wall gaps occur in the Tucson, El Paso and Yuma Sectors.
President Biden ordered the end of border wall construction and the diversion of funds shortly after taking office. However, the order came down with several sections of the wall unfinished.
DHS will close the gaps, add missing gates, guardrails and signage as well as address incomplete foundations and repair power for gates that have been hung but are inoperable.
The Department will also use the funds to install drainage to prevent flooding and install and finish erosion control and slope stabilization measures.
In order to complete the projects, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas authorized US Customs and Border Protection to work alongside local land owners, state, local and tribal officials as well as federal agencies.
The DHS announcement closed with a call for Congress “to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border.”
The move represents a second partial restoration by the Biden administration of Trump-era policies after the administration reinstated the former president’s “Remain in Mexico” protocols during a period of historically high numbers of illegal border crossings.
Republicans praised the department’s move to patch holes in the border wall, with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) calling it a “step in the right direction.”
“I’m pleased to see that they are finally taking some actions to secure our border – now is not the time to incentivize unlawful migration or the influx of deadly fentanyl by continuing their failed policies,” Portman said in a statement.
“I call on the Biden administration to install the technology Border Patrol needs to complete their mission, close all the gaps in the border wall, and to implement policies to curb the influx of unlawful migrants and illicit narcotics,” he added.
The border wall repairs come as hundreds of migrants are traveling north through Mexico and Central America looking for asylum. The migrants are mainly trekking on foot as part of caravans, clashing with local authorities along the way. Some of the caravans are made up of thousands of people.