White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre clarified that President Biden does not actually want the border wall expedited by his administration.
Jean-Pierre, speaking to the press Thursday, said Biden is opposed to the border wall demanded by his Department of Homeland Security and immigration officials.
“This is a law that we are complying with. We have asked Congress multiple times to reappropriate [funding for the wall]. This is not the way that we believe is going to be effective here.
“We believe in modernizing the system, not actually building a wall. The president said himself he does not think this is effective.
“We think there are other ways to do that, whether it’s smarter, more effective border security measures — like border technology — we believe that works when you modernize that and also land ports of entry. We believe that’s what works to deal with border security.”
Through a series of conflicting internal statements, the Biden administration has been put in an awkward position of actively waiving federal laws to begin construction of barriers on the southern border at the same time its official stance is ostensibly opposed to the project on ethical grounds and questioning its effectiveness.
At the press conference Thursday, Jean-Pierre seemed to attribute the construction of the border wall to former President Donald Trump’s administration.
“[Biden] has been very clear about this. He doesn’t believe the border wall is effective. And that has not changed. That has not changed. We are complying by the law. DHS is complying by the law,” the press secretary said. “But that appropriation came from fiscal year 2019 under the last administration, Republican leadership. And that’s what you’re seeing now.”
Fox News Digital reported Wednesday that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is citing an “acute and immediate need” to waive dozens of federal laws to build a border wall in south Texas, where illegal migration has surged.
It’s a sharp contrast to dismissals of the use of such barriers in the early days of the administration, forcing Biden to characterize himself as effectively helpless in the face of his own administration and cabinet as they actively work against his stated values with his tacit permission.
Biden, speaking after his administration announced border wall construction in Texas, said at the White House Thursday he tried to “redirect” the money for the project.
“I’ll answer one question on the border wall, the border wall where money was appropriated for the border wall. I tried to get them to reappropriate, to redirect that money,” Biden said. “They didn’t. They wouldn’t. And, in the meantime, there’s nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated. I can’t stop that.”
When asked by a reporter if he believes a border wall works, Biden said “no.”
The administration had put a halt to new border wall construction in early 2021, after Biden had promised as a presidential candidate that there would “not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.” The administration said wall construction under the Trump administration was “just one example of the prior administration’s misplaced priorities and failure to manage migration in a safe, orderly and humane way.”
However, the construction is funded by the fiscal year 2019 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, which specifically funded wall projects in the Rio Grande Valley Sector and which DHS is required to use for its appropriated purpose.
The announcement comes as the Biden administration is facing a fresh surge in illegal immigration, leading to record-high numbers at the southern border and intense political criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources told Fox News last week there were more than 260,000 encounters in September, which would be the highest monthly total on record.
Fox News Digital’s Greg Normand and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.