Biden approves new section of border wall as Mexico crossings rise

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Biden approves new section of border wall as Mexico crossings rise

US President Joe Biden’s administration is to build a section of border wall in southern Texas in an effort to stop rising levels of immigration.

Around 20 miles (32km) will be built in Starr County along its border with Mexico, where officials report high numbers of crossings.

Building a border wall was a signature policy of Donald Trump as president and fiercely opposed by Democrats.

In 2020, Mr Biden promised he would not build another foot of wall if elected.

His administration passed a proclamation soon after taking office that said building a wall across the southern border “is not a serious policy solution”.

In a statement to Associated News on Wednesday night, the US Customs and Border Protection defended the latest move, saying it was using funds already allocated for a border barrier.

“Congress appropriated fiscal year 2019 funds for the construction of border barrier in the Rio Grande Valley, and DHS is required to use those funds for their appropriated purpose,” the statement said.

The rising number of illegal border crossings has made the issue a vulnerable one for the president.

More than 245,000 crossings have been made this year, government data shows, and September is expected to be a record month.

Several US cities say they are feeling the strain of the influx.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams predicted the cost of housing the more than 100,000 new arrivals since last year will rise to $12bn over the next three years.

Mr Adams is travelling to Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador this week to discourage migrants from setting out. “We are at capacity,” he said on Tuesday.

President Biden’s secretary of homeland security referred to an “acute and immediate need” to build the new section of wall and prevent unlawful entries.

Dozens of federal laws have been waived in order to approve its construction, including the Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

The move has angered environmentalists, who say the structures will cut through the habitats of endangered plants and animals.

“It’s disheartening to see President Biden stoop to this level, casting aside our nation’s bedrock environmental laws to build ineffective wildlife-killing border walls,” said Laiken Jordahl, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.

According to a proposal by US Customs and Border Protection, the barriers will consist of large bollards embedded in a concrete base, as well as gates, cameras and CCTV equipment.

Homeland Security said it would use funding secured during Donald Trump’s presidency to build the new section.

It is the first time the Biden administration has used its powers to approve the construction of new walls – something that was done often during Mr Trump’s time in office, when 450 miles was built.