Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and local residents in Mission, Texas, are calling on President Biden to fix a compromised levee that protects border towns from the Rio Grande Valley – with hurricane season just weeks away.
“Your administration should not allow its opposition to a border wall to prevent building a levee wall that is critical to the people of the Rio Grande Valley,” he said in a letter to Biden.
The levee was being adapted into a border wall under the Trump administration, and was supposed to connect to an already modified levee nearby.
But in January, President Biden ordered a halt to border wall constructions – something he had promised to do during the 2020 presidential campaign. Construction crews left and now parts of the levee are shaved off or weakened, and some are missing altogether.
The situation is raising concerns about potential flooding. Residents recall in 2010 that the entire valley was hit by historic floods and the only protection communities had was the levee. Those who live nearby are calling on Biden to help.
“You need to help us, because if you don’t, if you don’t finish this project, if you don’t complete this levee, we’re going to be in the water here,” retired Border Patrol agent Armando Mercado told Fox News. “And we’re talking about thousands of homes, thousands of people. It is going to be devastating to this community.”
It’s also raised concerns from the federal agencies. The International Boundary and Water Commission says it is “very concerned” by the situation – but as of yet there is no plan to fix this. The Army Corp of Engineers, which was the key agency for border wall construction, says they are waiting on the Department of Homeland Security to develop a plan.
DHS did not respond to a request for comment.
Under President Trump, 450 miles of border wall were built – much of it replacing old landing mat-style construction with 18-foot steel bollards. More than 350 extra miles had been funded, but Biden ordered a pause before that could be finished.
The White House earlier this month kept the door open to some “limited” additional wall construction.White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about a Washington Times report that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees that while money for the wall had been stopped, it “leaves room to make decisions” on finishing “gaps in the wall.”
“It is paused,” Psaki said. “There is some limited construction that has been funded and allocated for, but it is otherwise paused.”