Construction on Border Leaves Activists Asking Whether Biden's Building the Wall

President Joe Biden is breaking a major campaign promise.
President Joe Biden is breaking a major campaign promise. Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash
When former President Donald Trump left office, his dream of completing a "world-class security system at the border" remained unfinished. Since then, certain Texas Republican lawmakers, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have sworn to do it for him, winning themselves some brownie points among Trump’s base.

But some civil rights groups are reporting that wall-loving Texans should also be thanking Trump’s successor: Democratic President Joe Biden.

On the 2020 campaign trail, Biden vowed that there would "not be another foot of wall constructed.” Now, South Texas community advocates are accusing him of breaking that promise, a charge federal authorities deny.
Roberto Lopez, a community organizer with the Texas Civil Rights Project, said during a press conference last week that it appears that border wall construction is continuing.

“It looks exactly like the same border fencing,” he said, referencing recent drone video footage of construction in the Rio Grande Valley.

“It’s shorter than the Trump-era wall, but it’s the same material," he continued. "So we really just want to make sure that people aren’t taking a victory lap around this.”
Activists are reporting that construction crews are placing bollards and pouring concrete into a miles-long levee system along the southern border. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers insists that it’s part of planned levee repair, but Lopez and other activists are highly suspicious.

After a citizen journalist posted video of construction to Twitter, the Corps responded by claiming 6-foot “guardrails” were "being installed to support levee repairs."
Those guardrails are shorter than the Trump wall, but the construction still features the same materials, such as concrete and steel, Lopez said.

Regardless of whether it’s a “guardrail,” the construction still compromises the integrity of the area’s flood control system and inflicts the same harms, said Norma Herrera, a rapid response organizer with Voces Unidas, an immigration and community development network serving the Rio Grande Valley.

"It’s just an incredible waste of resources." – Norma Herrera, Voces Unidas

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“It will continue to devastate private and public property,” she said, “so the environmental impact and the impact to residents in the region is the same. And then not to mention that it’s just an incredible waste of resources.”

At the same time the Biden administration apparently continues to build, border arrests are on track to become the highest number recorded since 2000’s total of nearly 1.7 million, according to Reuters. So far in fiscal year 2021, officials have made more than a million arrests.

Biden has ditched some of his predecessor’s more stringent immigration policies, but civil rights leaders say he hasn’t gone far enough. Republicans, meanwhile, accuse the Democrat of creating an unprecedented crisis on the southern frontier.

On Wednesday, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced he's suing the Biden administration, accusing the president of illegally preventing construction of the border wall, according to The Texas Tribune.

“The issue here is simple — no man is above the law,” said Bush, who has also announced a bid in the Republican primary for attorney general. “And that includes President Biden.”

Recently, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that his administration would use at least $250 million in state funding, plus private donations, to build the border wall. But to Lopez, that money would be better spent elsewhere.

Hurricane season will peak around September, he said, and every year, South Texas homes and property are destroyed, even with seasonal rainfall. In May, the Associated Press captured footage in the southern town of Weslaco of cars attempting to drive through a raging flood.
Lopez said it’s been disappointing to see billions poured into “symbols of hate” every year, money that could be used to assist families whose homes are damaged by storms.

Biden needs to step in and push Congress to rescind border wall funding, he added. Herrera agrees.

“Putting in new walls is not necessary,” she said, “and doing it under the guise of levee repairs really just adds insult to injury.”
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Simone Carter, a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer, graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter