Herika Martinez Agence France-Presse The 80-year-old Democratic president, a candidate for re-election, said he would “not could not interrupt” the financing committed by the Republican billionaire, failing to have been able to convince Congress to use the funds for other measures.
Joe Biden assured Thursday that he was legally obliged to continue the construction of a border wall with Mexico, a flagship measure of his predecessor Donald Trump and which the current American president has always strongly criticized.
The 80-year-old Democrat, running for re-election, said he “could not interrupt” the funding committed by the Republican billionaire because he had not been able to convince Congress to use the funds for other measures. /p>
Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mayorkas announced earlier that a new portion would be built in the Rio Grande Valley, an area that experiences a “large number of illegal entries” on the border between both countries.
“There is currently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads near the United States border to prevent illegal entry,” Mr. Mayorkas said in an official notice published by the Federal Register of United States.
The information was described as an about-face, with Joe Biden having affirmed on the day he took office in January 2021 that the taxpayer would no longer pay for the construction of a wall in border, and that a “massive” wall was not “a serious political solution.”
In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador immediately judged that it was a “step backwards”.
“The money was intended for the border wall. I tried to convince [Republicans in Congress] to allocate the funds to something else, to redirect them. They didn’t want to,” defended Joe Biden.
“In the meantime, it is not legally possible to use this money for anything other than what it was intended for,” he continued, while assuring that “no,” he did not believe that building walls was a solution to the migration crisis.
“We apply the law,” repeated its spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre several times during her daily press briefing, also emphasizing that Congress had blocked any attempt to use this money otherwise.
To call it a reversal “is absolutely false,” another White House spokesman, Andrew Bates, said on X, formerly Twitter. “Congress requires us to do this under the terms of a 2019 law.”
Donald Trump, rival of Joe Biden and favorite of the right for the next presidential election, did not fail to react.
The Biden administration's announcement shows that “I was right when I built 900 km […] of a beautiful, brand new border wall,” he wrote on its Truth Social platform.
The Minister of Homeland Security had specified in the official notice that the funds for “additional physical barriers” would come from an allocation approved by Congress for this specific purpose in 2019, when Donald Trump was in power.
He also indicated that around twenty federal laws, such as legislation on the environment and protected species, would have to be suspended to allow the construction of this new portion.
Illegal immigration is a growing political problem for Mr. Biden, who is running for re-election in 2024 and has been dogged by Republicans who accuse him of laxity.
Recently, the federal administration almost experienced a ” shutdown” (a paralysis of its services) due to disagreements between the two camps: the right wing of the Republican Party is in fact opposed to the release of additional funds for Ukraine at war invaded by Russia, believing that this money should rather be used to fight the migration crisis.
The White House, however, refused to use the construction of the wall to bargain for conservative support for a new envelope intended for Ukraine: “I would not make the link between the two,” said Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday.
The announcement of the new construction also disappointed environmental activists.
Laiken Jordahl of the Center for Biodiversity called it “demoralizing,” lamenting that the president is “discarding our environmental protection laws to build ineffective, wildlife-killing border walls.”