The Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has authorized the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to "move forward with activities necessary to address life, safety, environmental, and remediation requirements for border barrier projects previously undertaken by the Department of Defense."
The green light to do some small construction on the border wall system, which President Joe Biden halted on his first day in office, will take place in the San Diego and El Centro Sectors in California, the Yuma and Tucson Sectors in Arizona, and the El Paso and Del Rio Sectors in Texas. The Rio Grande Valley, the hardest-hit sector along the southern border, was not named in the announcement because similar restoration projects were approved in July.
The projects will mainly focus on actions not related to building more miles of sections and any gaps that were created by the Biden administration that will be now closed have been described as "small":
- Completing and/or installing drainage to prevent flooding.
- Installing and completing permanent erosion control and slope stabilization measures to ensure the safety and stability of structures in the region.
- Completing prior construction of patrol, maintenance, and access roads by adding guardrails, signage, and integrating existing roadways to address safety concerns.
- Remediating temporary use areas such as laydown yards, haul roads, and project areas impacted by construction.
- Disposing of residual materials not required for completion of the work as identified above.
- Closing small gaps that remain open from prior construction activities and remediating incomplete gates.
"In furtherance of Presidential Proclamation 10142, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the cancellation of all DoD 284 Projects. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), on behalf of DoD, is in the process of terminating the construction contracts for these projects. As part of that process, DoD will turn over unfinished projects to DHS in various stages of completion to undertake activities necessary to address urgent life, safety, environmental, or other remediation required to protect border communities," DHS said in the press release.
In contrast, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) announced on Saturday the beginning of a similar border wall system in the Rio Grande Valley Sector on state land using state funds. Abbott's administration inquired about using the wall materials that have already been paid for by taxpayers and has been sitting outside since the federal wall construction was halted but they never heard back from the Biden administration.