Biden retreats on border wall construction after plummeting poll numbers, internal party revolt
Democrats on the local and state level are criticizing Biden's handling of the border crisis
The Biden administration is changing course on border wall construction amid an internal Democrat Party revolt over immigration and the president's poll numbers continuing to drop.
Despite Biden's past opposition to building additional miles of physical border barriers, the administration is expanding the wall in Texas. And the administration reportedly had to waive 26 federal regulations for the project.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote a notice Thursday in the federal register about the construction of 18-foot tall steel fencing that will cover about 20 miles along the border in Texas.
"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," the notice read.
Such efforts come amid Biden's steadily declining approval rating, which is now at 41%, compared to 57% when he took office in January 2021, according the Gallup presidential tracking poll.
Meanwhile, Democrats on the local and state level, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, have been critical of Biden's immigration policy, which has resulted in a record number of migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. illegally.
About 140,000 Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal immigrants took place at the border in the first 20 days of September alone, according to preliminary Customs and Border Protection data.
In New York City, over 122,700 asylum seekers have come through its intake system since spring of 2022, with a projected costs of roughly $12 billion for three years.
Adams, as a result, will on Wednesday begin a four-day trip through Latin America, during which he plans to discourage people from coming to New York, telling them the city’s shelter system is full.
Another Democrat stronghold during Biden's reelection bid, Chicago, is facing a similar situation, with over 17,000 asylum-seekers having arrived in the city since last year.
Mayor Brandon Johnson said this week he's going to the southern U.S. border to personally see the crisis, with Chicago hosting the 2024 Democratic National Convention.
The change in administration policy follows numerous, steadfast statements about not extending the wall.
"There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration, No. 1," Biden told National Public Radio in 2020.
In October 2021, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called building physical barriers along the border "not an effective policy."
When Biden took office in January 2021, he issued an executive order that halted construction of more barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Biden on Thursday pointed the finger at Congress for the wall construction when asked directly about the issue.
"The money was appropriated for the border wall," he said. "I tried to get them to reappropriate it, to redirect that money. They didn’t, they wouldn’t. And in the meantime, there’s nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated. I can’t stop that."
He also said no when asked if he thinks walls work.
Jean-Pierre said on Thursday said the White House had tried to get Congress to redirect the funds away from the border wall but they were unsuccessful.
"These funds were appropriated in fiscal year 2019 under Republican leadership, and [the Department of Homeland Security] is required by law to use the funds for appropriate – appropriated purpose," she said. "That’s what we’re seeing. This was announced back in June by the DHS."
Former President Trump, who made building the border wall a central part of his 2016 presidential campaign platform, said he deserves an apology from Biden.
“Will Joe Biden apologize to me and America for taking so long to get moving, and allowing our country to be flooded with 15 million illegals immigrants, from places unknown,” Trump wrote Thursday in a Truth Social post. “I will await his apology!”