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Biden administrator quietly approves construction of US-Mexico border wall near Yuma, Arizona

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“Not another foot.”

These are the words Joe Biden has used as a mantra throughout his 2020 presidential campaign regarding the construction of the US-Mexico border wall. But on Thursday, the Biden administration approved a plan to complete a section of the border wall near Yuma, Arizona.

The plan includes closing four major gaps in the wall that continue to allow the Yuma area to be one of the busiest corridors for illegal immigration crossings.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas authorized the new plan, which was launched by the Trump administration, with the goal of “deploying modern and effective border measures” and improving “safety and security.” security along the southwestern border,” the agency said.

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Migrant families from Brazil walk through a gap in the border wall after crossing from Mexico to Yuma, Arizona. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia, File)

The project will be funded under the 2021 Homeland Security budget, although it was originally planned to be funded by the Department of Defense.

The Yumas border area remains an unresolved issue for the Biden administration, as Border Patrol agents have already arrested migrants more than 160,000 times from January to June in the area this year.

The figure is almost four times the number of migrant stops from last year and the Yuma sector remains the busiest migrant sector in the state of Arizona.

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Del Rio and Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas were the only other areas with more traffic along the entire US-Mexico border.

The Yuma sector was notably occupied under former President Trump, who had parts of the border wall built or reinforced. A plaque was also installed along the Yuma border in 2020 affirming Trump’s role in securing the wall.

Bidens’ move to secure the border wall comes after Sen. Mark Kelly, D-AZ, called on the president to secure the border. Republican lawmakers have made similar calls.

The quiet endorsement of building the walls by Biden administrations also comes after Biden often used it as a way to contrast his policies with those of the Trump administration.

In the past, Biden has repeatedly criticized Trump, his border wall and his immigration policies which he called “xenophobic” and “racist”.

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In an op-ed published in the Miami Herald, Biden specifically wrote that the “build the wall” slogan was “dissociated from reality” and that a wall “will not stop the flow of illegal narcotics or human trafficking. , which mainly go through legal channels”. entry points. »

“Nor will it reduce the number of undocumented migrants, most of whom overstay legal visas,” he added.

During an August 2020 interview, Biden told NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro, “There won’t be another foot of wall built on my administration, #1.”

“I’m going to make sure we have protection at the borders, but it’s going to be based on making sure that we use a high-tech capability to deal with it. And at the points of entry, that’s where all the bad things happen,” he added.

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Biden also ceased all new border wall construction after taking office and asked Congress to reverse funding for border wall construction.

It has since strengthened border security measures. Biden also continues to use billions of dollars Congress appropriated to build the walls. It cannot legally refuse to do so, it is only allowed to suspend border construction projects.

A breach in the US-Mexico border wall is seen from farmland in Yuma, Arizona on June 1, 2022. (PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Republicans have repeatedly sued Biden for suspending construction of the border wall.

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“The Biden administration’s adamant refusal to use funds that have already been earmarked by Congress to build the border wall is not only illegal and unconstitutional. It is also wrong,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, in a lawsuit filed in October 2021.

In January, Biden announced a pause in building about 86 miles of a border wall along the Rio Grande, citing an environmental review.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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