Last Wednesday (10/4/23), the Biden administration announced that they waived 26 federal laws in South Texas to build more border wall. This is the first time the administration has used this tactic to build more border barriers in Starr County. Some of the federal laws waived by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) include the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Endangered Species Act. Waiving such acts helps avoid time-consuming reviews and lawsuits, thus facilitating border wall construction, although the environmentalists are against the waivers.

The administration is planning to build an additional 20 miles or 32 km to the existing barrier. Starr County has about 65,000 residents in about 1,200 sq. miles that include ranchlands and a National Wildlife in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Therefore, the barriers will run through public lands and specifically affect habitats of endangered species like the spotted cat and the ocelot according to environmentalists.

During the Trump administration, specifically between 2017 and 2021, about 450 miles of border wall were built along the southwest border. However, the Biden administration halted the construction after winning the presidency saying that ‘it was not a serious policy solution’. The recent announcement has contrasted their proclamation. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s President criticized the move and said it was ‘a step backwards’. He further added that building a wall is contrary to what Biden advocated when running for office.

Trump was quick to claim victory and demand an apology from Joe Biden. ‘Will Joe Biden apologize to me and America for taking so long to get moving…’ Trump wrote on social media.