‘Waking up’: Arizona leaders react to DHS shift on border wall policy

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(The Center Square) – Southern Arizona leaders are taking note after the Biden administration seems to be shifting their policy regarding border wall construction in Texas.

The administration decided to waive 26 federal laws in order to allow the construction of a border wall in Starr County, Texas, a policy that President Joe Biden was fiercely against but touted by former President Donald Trump.

“There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas pursuant to sections 102(a) and 102(b) of IIRIRA,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote in a filing in the Federal Register on Wednesday, The Center Square reported.

Although the change is focused on the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas, it is providing a narrow degree of optimism when it comes to Arizona, which is also dealing with a heavy flow of migrants.

“I am grateful that he is waking up,” Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines told The Center Square. “Whoever is advising him probably is making the right call now. Now, they need to continue to give Border Patrol additional tools to be able to combat the trafficking and the narcotics.”

Lines noted that he and other leaders were in talks with Mayorkas over a year ago to fill gaps in the Yuma sector of the border, and only some progress has been made.

“Well, not many people are aware of this, but Secretary Mayorkas met with the mayor and myself almost 20 months ago, and he committed to fill in 11 of 13 gaps here in Yuma County, and they just completed filling in the first three gaps,” he said. “So they went out and they went out and bought new material. They would not utilize any of Trump’s bought and paid for material or any of our bought and paid for material. So we’ve already gotten a couple miles taken care of. And from what I understand, they’re going to install additional fencing down east of San Luis, Arizona.”

As for Douglas Mayor Donald Huish, whose city borders Agua Prieta, Mexico, he hopes that technological development will be in store for his region of the border.

“While a border wall helps push illegal entrants outside our community, I believe completion of the lighting and technology enhancements along the border that were halted in January 2020 would better serve this area,” Huish told The Center Square in an email.

The Arizona-based Border Security Alliance is attributing the shift to the fact that next year is the presidential election.

“President Biden’s decision to flip flop on his border wall position and waive federal laws to allow for border wall construction in Texas is just a political attempt to shield his many years of ignoring the border,” BSA President Jobe Dickinson said in a news release Thursday.

“Only now, as the media is bringing this issue to light closer to an election year, is the President doing anything about it,” he later added.

It’s unclear if the Department of Homeland Security will be making more changes that are specific to Arizona’s southern border that are similar to the actions taken in Texas.

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