Biden administration waives 26 federal laws to allow border wall construction in South Texas

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in the State Dining Room of the White House, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Washington. The Biden administration will propose new automobile pollution limits this week that would require at least 54% of new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be electric by 2030, ramping up quickly to as high as 67% by 2032. That's according to three people briefed on the plan. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

McALLEN, Texas — The Biden administration announced they waived 26 federal laws in South Texas to allow border wall construction on Wednesday, marking the administration’s first use of a sweeping executive power employed often during the Trump presidency.

The Department of Homeland Security posted the announcement on the U.S. Federal Registry with few details outlining the construction in Starr County, Texas, which is part of a busy Border Patrol sector seeing “high illegal entry.” According to government data, about 245,000 illegal entries have been recorded in this region during the current fiscal year.

“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 in the project areas,” Alejandro Mayorkas, the DHS secretary, stated in the notice.

The Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Endangered Species Act were some of the federal laws waived by DHS to make way for construction that will use funds from a congressional appropriation in 2019 for border wall construction. The waivers avoid time-consuming reviews and lawsuits challenging violation of environmental laws.

A previous map shared during the gathering of public comments shows the piecemeal construction will add up to an additional 20 miles to the existing border barrier system in the area.

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