(PatriotNewsDaily.com) – House Oversight Committee’s Republican members are scrutinizing the rationale behind what they perceive as “inconsistent” pronouncements by the Biden administration concerning completing the construction of the border wall separating the U.S. and Mexico. This comes after the administration’s decision to set aside numerous federal laws to facilitate construction activities in Texas.
Spearheaded by Chairman James Comer, the Republican faction of the committee has addressed their concerns in a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas. They are particularly concerned about the decision to bypass 26 federal statutes to expedite the building of barriers and access roads in Starr County, Texas.
The funds for this construction effort stem from the DHS appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2019. This bill explicitly allocated funds for wall construction in the RGV Sector, and DHS is legally bound to utilize the funds as designated.
Despite the announcement of construction back in June, it was only recently that Secretary Mayorkas highlighted an “urgent and immediate necessity,” referencing the sudden need to forgo federal laws. This urgency, published in the U.S. Federal Register, is attributed to the surge in unlawful crossings at the concerned location.
Secretary Mayorkas emphasized the dire need for physical barriers and roads near the U.S. border to thwart unauthorized entries into the country, as outlined in sections 102(a) and 102(b) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
This move has sparked accusations from both Republicans and Democrats, suggesting a stark deviation from the administration’s previous stance on the matter. Notably, the administration had previously ceased border wall constructions in early 2021, dismissing them as futile and even offloading materials meant for the border wall.
In his response, Comer agreed with the necessity for a barrier, citing the unprecedented numbers seen at the border. He noted the administration’s apparent acknowledgment of the critical role of border barriers in enhancing border security, as they’ve demonstrated significant efficacy in curbing illegal crossings and contraband while also reducing the need for extensive patrols. However, he expressed confusion over continued claims by administration officials that this doesn’t represent a policy shift and that border barriers don’t work.
Mayorkas responded by insisting that there hasn’t been a shift in policy regarding the border wall, explaining that the administration is legally obligated to allocate the funds appropriated by Congress during Trump’s presidency.
He asserted in a statement dated October 5th, “Our administration’s stance has been consistent since the beginning: a border wall is not the solution. Our stance remains unchanged. The wording in the Federal Register notice is being misconstrued, and it in no way indicates a policy shift.”
He added, “We have persistently urged Congress to revoke these funds but to no avail. We are bound by law to adhere.”
Furthermore, the Republican members underscored statements from the White House and President Biden himself, who have previously voiced their belief in the ineffectiveness of a border wall.
A representative for DHS reiterated that the department would continue to address congressional inquiries through official means. They stressed the mandatory nature of the FY 2019 expenditure and Congress’s refusal to revoke the funds.
The representative explained, “Despite our continuous efforts over two years to persuade Congress to allocate the funds towards more strategic, efficient measures, the only remaining lawful option was to issue a waiver for these statutes.” They clarified that the phrasing of the waiver was tailored to ensure DHS’s compliance with Congress’s 2019 directive to utilize the funds specifically for border wall construction, not as an affirmation of the administration’s stance.
They continued, “Policy-wise, the Administration disagrees with the mandate from Congress in 2019 and remains opposed to further construction of the border wall. However, DHS is legally obligated to, and will, abide by the law.”
The administration has also urged Congress to either cancel or reallocate additional funding for the border to different projects. DHS highlighted attempts in 2021 and 2022 to convince Congress to repurpose the funds, including proposals in the FY 2022 budget to redirect the FY19 allocations.
The Republican members are demanding access to documents and correspondence related to the border wall construction and Mayorkas’ statement that delineates the administration’s policy. This also includes communications between DHS and the White House.
The statement from the committee concluded, “It’s only after the Biden administration disposed of surplus border wall materials, which have been dormant since the first day of President Biden’s term, that the Department of Homeland Security has conceded to the necessity for physical border barriers.” It continued, “As the White House persists in its denial, Oversight Republicans remain committed to advocating for the American public and holding the current Administration accountable for their missteps concerning the border.”
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