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On Wednesday, I came across some astounding news. A few months after President Joe Biden halted all construction of the wall across America’s southern border — the one Donald Trump campaigned on and the one that arguably kept the border crisis in check until Biden entered office — the Biden administration had re-started construction.
This would be a wise move. While Biden opposed the wall, Trump had nearly completed the project, and it would be a mark of humility and wisdom for Biden to admit that finishing the project is worth it. After all, the government had already paid for more construction, and it seems pointless to just throw that money away.
Alas, this news was misleading. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is rebuilding a section of the wall that had caused some “dangerous erosion.”
Fox News correspondent Bill Melugin announced the construction in a way that suggested Biden had finally decided to keep building the wall.
“BREAKING: [Fox News] has confirmed via the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that construction on a 13.4 mile stretch of border wall in the Rio Grande Valley will *RESUME* after pressure from local residents & politicians. The Biden admin previously halted all wall construction in Jan.,” Melugin announced on Twitter.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) responded to Melugin, clarifying that construction of the wall had not truly restarted.
“In support of CBP’s border infrastructure program, USACE has resumed DHS-funded design & construction support on approx. 13.4 miles of levee in the Rio Grande Valley that were partially excavated or at various levels of construction when work on the wall was paused for review,” the corps tweeted (emphasis added).
Fox News’ Adam Shaw provided key context in an article published Tuesday.
“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working to fix what it describes as ‘dangerous erosion’ along a 14-mile stretch of border wall construction in California — one of what it says are a number of steps to protect communities there,” Shaw reported.
“Improper compaction of soil and construction materials along a wall segment constructed by the prior administration is causing dangerous erosion along a 14-mile stretch in San Diego, California,” DHS said in an April 30 statement. “DHS will begin necessary backfill projects to ensure the safety of nearby border communities.”
Importantly, DHS clarified that the work “would not expand construction but simply fix existing construction to protect nearby communities.”
The agency also announced that more work is ahead. “Additionally, it announced that it will repair a flood barrier system in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, after it says the Trump administration ‘blew large holes’ in the system to make way for the border wall,” Shaw reported.
The Washington Examiner noted that wall progress in the Rio Grande Valley had been slower than in other border regions. In southeastern Texas, the wall doubles as a levee system. Government planners took more time to consider how to make a wall would also hold water back from a nearby river.
When I first came across Melugin’s tweet, I suspected the news was too good to be true. It would be impressive for Biden to admit that his reckless reversals of Trump’s border policies had worsened the situation on the border, and it would be even more impressive for him to accept that building on Trump’s controversial legacy would be the best course for the country. Sadly, that is not the case. Instead, the border wall will remain incomplete, with DHS merely tweaking the work that had already been completed under Trump.
The border crisis is only likely to get worse, as Biden has incentivized illegal immigration while at the same time eroding all of the Trump policies that kept migrants at bay. He didn’t just pause wall construction. He also ended the “Remain in Mexico” policy, dropped Trump’s “safe third country” deals with Latin American countries regarding asylum seekers, and promised leniency for the people who break the law by entering this country illegally.
If Biden wants to solve the border crisis, he will have to undo his reckless reversal of some of Trump’s policies. Sadly, that seems extremely unlikely.