Border security funding allocated by Congress will be used to close small gaps in the wall and pay for environmental and clean-up projects in areas affected by barrier construction during the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced, CBS News reported.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the closing of the gaps left open when construction was halted by the incoming Biden administration in January are needed to mitigate safety concerns.
Projects also include putting in drainage to prevent flooding, mitigating soil erosion, finishing roads used by Border Patrol agents, demobilizing construction and equipment storage sites, and getting rid of unused materials.
The projects, which are to start next year, are part of a broader Biden administration plan to wind down the Trump border wall construction effort, which was one of the most expensive federal infrastructure projects in American history.
The work will be carried out in the U.S. Border Patrol’s San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso, and Del Rio sectors, CNN reported.
The Washington Free Beacon pointed out that these regions have seen record levels of illegal immigration immigration this year.
DHS said it will also add “missing gates” and connect “power to gates that are already hung but are currently inoperable.” Border Patrol agents use the emergency rescue gates to save migrants stranded in irrigation canals.
Since inauguration, the Biden administration has been returning billions of unused Pentagon funds after the president ordered a halt to construction of the border wall, according to CBS News.
But Congress has also allocated $6 billion for border barrier construction between fiscal years 2018 and 2021. The administration has urged Congress to cancel the unused funds “and instead fund smarter border security measures that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border,” CBS News reported.
But DHS has said that in the meantime it will use the money to “address urgent life, safety, and environmental issues resulting from the previous Administration’s wall construction.”