President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Monday that it will close “small” gaps in former President Donald Trump’s border wall and will dispose of excess materials as part of a broader effort to “address urgent life, safety, environmental, or other remediation required to protect border communities.”
On his first day in office, Biden canceled the border wall project, leaving large sections incomplete and material unused. The DHS said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working on behalf of the Department of Defense, is in the processes of ending construction contracts created by the Trump administration, and will turn over unfinished projects to Homeland Security.
“Work will be completed within the Tucson, El Paso, and Yuma Sectors to address safety concerns by closing construction access gaps that were left open at the time of the border barrier construction pause, and will also include adding missing gates, addressing incomplete foundations, and connecting power to gates that are already hung but are currently inoperable,” the DHS said in a statement.
“Rescue gates provide access for Border Patrol agents and first responders to access irrigation canals in emergency situations where the water is fast moving and extremely dangerous. These emergency rescue gates are currently inoperable due to missing hardware or being welded shut.”
The department’s statement noted that the Biden administration wants Congress to “cancel remaining border wall funding” and instead fund “smarter border security measures” that the administration claims “are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border.”
Rob Portman (R-OH), Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member, said that Biden’s decision to close the gaps in Trump’s border wall is 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, according to Fox News. “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.”
Over the weekend, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revealed part of his state’s own southern border wall six months after authorizing Texas’ effort to construct it.
During a press conference set in front of the section of wall, Abbott called the action “unprecedented” and praised Texas’ efforts to “safeguard the sovereignty of our state and of our nation.”
In FY21, over 1.7 million illegal immigrants were arrested crossing the southern border from Mexico, according to Customs and Border Patrol statistics.