Biden to Resume Border Wall Construction, Defying Many Environmental Laws: "I Can't Stop That"

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Oct. 6 2023, Published 10:13 a.m. ET

Joe Biden speaks in front of American flags
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • President Biden says construction will resume on a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
  • This will complete unfinished business of the Trump administration, and Biden claims he cannot stop this.
  • The wall's construction will defy a number of federal laws meant to protect the environment and public health, including the Clean Air Act.

As much as many Americans would like to never hear about any of Donald Trump's presidential policies ever again, one of the reality TV star's central campaign promises is finally set to be completed: the border wall.

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In October 2023, President Joe Biden's administration confirmed that construction would resume for the discriminatory border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, something that Trump promised his supporters when campaigning in 2016. And to make matters worse, the project will ignore various federal laws, meaning it will be horrible for the environment, wildlife, and public health.

Part of the border wall in Arizona
Source: Getty Images

A Border Patrol officer sits inside his car as he guards the U.S./Mexico border fence, in Nogales, Ariz., on Feb. 9, 2019.

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Biden says he does not support the border wall, but the project must go ahead.

On Oct. 5, 2023, President Biden confirmed that construction of the physical border wall between Texas' Rio Grande Valley and Mexico will soon resume, against his own wishes.

He has long criticized Trump's xenophobic border wall plans. In fact, while campaigning to become president in August 2020, Biden stated in an interview with NPR: "There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration."

Why is Biden resuming construction on building the border wall?

In a press briefing with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Oct. 5, she stated that Biden "has been very consistent" in his belief that a border wall would not be effective.

However, as she explained, "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 [the]— appropriated purpose.

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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at a White House podium.
Source: Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on Oct. 5, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

When a reporter asked Jean-Pierre why this is coming about now, she explained that Biden has "been asking Congress to reappropriate the funds" for the past few years, but Congress denied that request.

"We have to comply by law to get this done," she said. "And that’s what you’re seeing happening right now."

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Biden spoke about this issue directly with reporters on Oct. 5 as well.

"Money was appropriated for the border wall [during the Trump administration]," Biden said, as reported by ABC News. "I tried to get them to reappropriate — to redirect the 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 is appropriated. I can't stop that."

Joe Biden closeup
Source: Getty Images

Biden delivers remarks during a meeting in the Oval Office on Oct. 5, 2023. where he responded to a reporter's question saying he cannot stop appropriated funds for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

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The Biden administration is defying 26 federal laws to build the border wall.

As reported by CNN, the Biden administration stated that it plans to waive a whopping 26 federal laws to go ahead with this plan.

Many of these laws are related to protecting the environment, wildlife, and even public health, such as the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The Homeland Security Department shared a notice in the Federal Register on Oct. 5 detailing the 26 laws the department will break to finish building the wall. They are:

  1. The National Environmental Policy Act
  2. The Endangered Species Act
  3. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, aka the Clean Water Act
  4. The National Historic Preservation Act
  5. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act
  6. The Migratory Bird Conservation Act
  7. The Clean Air Act
  8. The Archeological Resources Protection Act
  9. The Paleontological Resources Preservation Act
  10. The Safe Drinking Water Act
  11. The Noise Control Act
  12. The Solid Waste Disposal Act
  13. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
  14. The Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act
  15. The Antiquities Act
  16. The Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act
  17. The Farmland Protection Policy Act
  18. The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act
  19. The National Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956
  20. The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
  21. The National Trails System Act
  22. The Administrative Procedure Act
  23. The Eagle Protection Act
  24. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
  25. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act
  26. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

Though Biden and his administration claim there is no way around this due to the previously-allocated funds, we hope they find a way to issue an executive order stopping this.

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