26 federal regulations have been disregarded to allow the building of a border wall in South Texas, marking a dramatic departure from the Biden administration’s original position. With this decision, the administration is using its executive authority for the first time to move forward with building a border wall—a move that is evocative of tactics used under the Trump administration. When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued the waivers, discussions over immigration policy changes, environmental concerns, and border security erupted.

The Declaration:
With over 245,000 illegal entries in Starr County, Texas, during the current fiscal year, the DHS revealed the waivers on the U.S. Federal Registry, indicating their intention to erect barriers in this high-illegal-entry area. Building physical barriers is “acute and immediate need” in order to stop illegal immigration into the United States, according to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Laws Waived: Among the federal laws that the DHS waived were the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. These policies, typical of the Trump administration, speed up the building process by avoiding lengthy environmental studies and possible legal disputes.

Environmental and Local Concerns: About 20 miles of new border barriers would be built in Starr County, which is home to roughly 65,000 people. Concerns about the possible effects on public lands, endangered species, and the area’s distinctive ecosystem—which includes arroyos and creeks—have been voiced by environmentalists and local officials.

Diverse political responses have been made in response to the announcement. Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar is against “wasteful spending” on a “ineffective” border wall. Proponents of the border wall contend that the administration’s choice, which emphasizes the usefulness of physical barriers for border control, represents a change in policy.

Administration Position Shift: The Biden administration’s prior declaration to suspend border wall building on January 20, 2021, is in contrast to the decision to bypass federal laws. The administration’s decision to reevaluate its approach to border security was spurred by an increase in the number of migrants entering the United States through the southern border.