Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reportedly is mulling a restart to border wall construction to plug “gaps” in the current barrier.
According to the Washington Times, the subject came up during a talk between Mayorkas and Immigration and Customs Enforcement staffers.
When asked about his plans for the wall, Mayorkas told staffers that while President Joe Biden has issued a stop on construction, “that leaves room to make decisions” on finishing some “gaps in the wall,” the Washington Times reported.
Citing notes of the ICE session that it had reviewed, the news outlet reported Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the wall, has submitted a plan for what it wants to see happen moving forward.
“It’s not a single answer to a single question. There are different projects that the chief of the Border Patrol has presented and the acting commissioner of CBP presented to me,” Mayorkas told the ICE staffers, the Washington Times reported.
“The president has communicated quite clearly his decision that the emergency that triggered the devotion of [Department of Defense] funds to the construction of the border wall is ended. But that leaves room to make decisions as the administration, as part of the administration, in particular areas of the wall that need renovation, particular projects that need to be finished.”
Mayorkas said those parts include “gaps,” “gates,” and areas “where the wall has been completed but the technology has not been implemented,” the Washington Times reported.
Mark Morgan, who served as acting commissioner of CBP under former President Donald Trump — and is a sharp critic of the current administration — called Mayorkas’ comment “more spin and misdirection,” adding CBP has always given the administration options for how to proceed on the wall, the Washington Times reported.
Trump completed about 460 miles of border wall, with most of that construction at places a barrier already existed but didn’t stop anyone who crossed the border by foot, the news outlet reported.
According to the Washington Times, a recent poll conducted for the Senate Opportunity Fund showing 53% of respondents favor border wall construction.
Biden’s stop order on construction gives Homeland Security the task of figuring out how to proceed. But the news outlet reported legal questions may force Mayorkas to keep building.
Under a law, when Congress allocates money for a purpose, the administration must carry it out except if there’s questions of efficiency, or when the president officially submits a revocation request, the news outlet reported.
Congress over the last four years has allocated $1.375 billion each year for the wall, including this current fiscal year, and congressional Republicans have asked the Government Accountability Office to review if Biden’s border wall construction pause is legal.
Trump has called on Biden to finish construction, telling Fox News last month the wall was near completion and that “we just had to fix little sections.”