The Department of Homeland Security announced plans Friday to restart limited border wall construction, closing a “gap” in the barrier in Arizona that appears to have been left when President Biden stopped construction on his first day in office.
Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also authorized new construction near Friendship Circle, a border park near the Pacific Ocean. It would replace the current fence, which the department said is eroding because of the water.
And Mr. Mayorkas gave the OK to replace or complete train and vehicle gates in various locations along the U.S.-Mexico boundary.
The department didn’t say how much of the border the projects will encompass, though they are likely to be a tiny fraction of the more than 450 miles of wall construction that took place under President Trump. Still, the new building contrasts with Mr. Biden’s campaign promise not to build “another foot” of the wall.
The department didn’t say which gap it plans to fill in the wall in Yuma, Arizona, but local officials have pointed to dozens of holes they wanted filled. They told Newsy last month Mr. Mayorkas had agreed to patch 11 of the gaps.
The wall remains a thorny subject for the Biden team, given some $2 billion in funds Congress appropriated for construction that has not been used.
Under the law, it must be spent on border barrier projects, but the administration is slow-walking the spending, arguing it is doing more analysis and environmental work.
In its statement announcing the new construction Friday, Homeland Security urged Congress to claw back that money, which would lift the legal obligation for it to be spent.
Mr. Mayorkas canceled existing wall contracts last year, but he also released a plan that allowed for “remediation” and closing gaps left by Mr. Biden’s order to halt construction.
Those gaps have become key entry points for illegal immigration, according to law enforcement sources at the border.