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Politics

White House waives 26 federal laws to speed up U.S.-Mexico border wall construction

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Emma Kinery@emmakinery

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Key Points
  • The Biden administration said it would be waiving federal laws including the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act to expedite construction of the southern border wall.
  • The construction, which was announced in late June, is a major policy pivot for the Biden administration.
  • It comes amid an influx of migrants along the southern border that has prompted even Democratic governors to ask the administration for help.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks with border patrol officers as he walks along the border fence during his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border to assess border enforcement operations, in El Paso, Texas, on Jan. 8, 2023.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration waived 26 federal laws in South Texas to greenlight the construction of approximately 20 additional miles of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in the Rio Grande Valley.

“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,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.

The department in an announcement Wednesday night said it would be waiving federal laws including the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act to expedite construction.

The continuation of border wall construction, which was announced in late June, is a major policy pivot for the Biden administration.

During his 2020 campaign, President Joe Biden promised not “another foot of wall” would be built under his administration. Once in office in January 2021, Biden issued a proclamation to end construction of the wall, stating that “building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution.”

The change comes amid an influx of migrants along the southern border that has prompted even Democratic governors to ask the administration for help. The federal government has recorded about 245,000 illegal entries in the Rio Grande Valley since the beginning of the fiscal year.

Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the migrant crisis in a letter this week, calling it “untenable” and chastising the administration for a “lack of intervention and coordination at the border.”

NBC News released a poll last week that found the majority of Americans say Republicans do a better job addressing border security.