Washington, Oct 4 (EFE).- The United States government is waiving more than two dozen federal laws and regulations to allow the building of a border wall in Texas, according to a document published Wednesday.
Minors rest inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), in Donna, Texas, USA, 30 March 2021. EFE-EPA FILE/DARIO LOPEZ-MILLS / POOL
The construction work, which will be carried out in several areas of the Rio Grande Valley, will include the construction of both physical barriers and roads to “in order to prevent unlawful entries” of migrants into US territory, said the document posted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will be officially published in the US Federal Registry on Thursday.
This border area in southeast of Texas is the second area where the most detentions of migrants have been recorded in recent months, according to data from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office.
It said that this fiscal year, as of early August, US authorities had encountered more than 245,000 people trying to cross the border from Mexico into the Rio Grande Valley, which it deems to be an area of “high illegal entry.”
To carry out the construction work in Starr County, the DHS is waiving compliance with 26 laws and regulations, including some related to the protection of clean air and water, public lands, historic sites, endangered wildlife and Indigenous grave sites.
The move was criticized by the environmental advocacy organization Center for Biological Diversity, which noted that this is the first time that the Democratic government has waived environmental, public health and cultural resource protection laws to fast-track the construction of a border wall.
“It’s disheartening to see President (Joe) Biden stoop to this level, casting aside our nation’s bedrock environmental laws to build ineffective wildlife-killing border walls,” said Laiken Jordahl, Southwest conservation advocate at the center.
Migrants cross the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass Texas, USA, 22 September 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/ADAM DAVIS
The announcement comes days after it was learned that arrests of migrants attempting to irregularly cross the southern border increased by 36 percent in August, with more than 181,059.
Specifically, 26 percent of these arrests occurred in the Rio Grande Valley, according to CBP data analyzed by the Washington Office on Latin America.
This increase has occured despite the imposition of more restrictive measures on the movement of people on the southern border by the Democratic government in May, which limit access to asylum in the US. EFE