Biden is (re)building the wall
No, you haven’t gone back in time to 2016. Yes, the US government is building a wall along the southern border.
The Biden administration announced this week that it will bypass environmental laws to fast-track 20 miles of barrier construction in the Rio Grande Valley – where 245,000 border arrests were made over the last year.
President Joe Biden, who campaigned on stopping Donald Trump’s border wall, is being called a hypocrite by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. In a press conference on Thursday, he told reporters the decision was not a policy reversal, and while he does not believe border walls are effective, the money Congress allocated to barrier construction under Trump in 2019 could not be allocated elsewhere.
But if the money has been allocated since 2019, why restart construction now? Biden is facing pressure from his party to get illegal immigration under control. Democratic leaders from New York to Illinois fear it could strengthen Republicans' tough-on-crime platforms and cost them suburban and moderate voters.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who has criticized Biden’s inaction, convinced the president to authorize work visas for nearly 500,000 Venezuelans to ease the strain on his city’s resources. Adams is currently on a tour of Latin America to dissuade would-be asylum-seekers from coming to the Big Apple.
Democrats will be trying hard not to lose gains in the state’s increasingly liberal cities and suburbs, particularly among Hispanic voters who are increasingly voting for the GOP. In Starr County, which is 95% Hispanic and construction on the wall is about to resume, voters shifted to the right by 55 points in 2020 compared to 2016.
Constructing a 20-mile barrier will neither win back these voters nor fix the country’s migrant crisis. But Biden’s decision underscores that border policy is a complex issue with decisive consequences in the 2024 election.