[Leer en español]
The acting commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Mark Morgan, called the construction of fences along some 720 kilometers of the border with Mexico “monumental” and warned of a “total crisis” should Joe Biden follow through on his current immigration policies.
The construction of a wall along the 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border was one of the main promises of outgoing President Donald Trump, both in his presidential campaign in 2016 and in much of his administration that ends on January 20th.
For his part, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, said in a statement that President Trump “listened to those who are and work on the ground and have struggled for physical infrastructure, access routes, lights, cameras and sensors, a whole package to protect our border.
Morgan said in a press conference that on December 31st he was notified that 724 kilometers of “new wall” had been completed.
“I had to smile: the media and critics had said it couldn’t be done. But we did it. It is a remarkable achievement, a historic achievement of this government,” he said.
The project was met with opposition in Congress from the Democratic opposition, criticism from immigrant advocacy groups, and lawsuits from environmental organizations, indigenous populations, and landowners where the barrier would be built.
In early 2019, Trump diverted funds that Congress had approved for military spending to this bill, sparking a political firestorm and multiple lawsuits.
Morgan spoke of the government’s “potential” transition and the contacts they have made with Biden’s staff who will be dealing with immigration.
“We are already seeing an increase in the capture of undocumented immigrants at the border. Preliminary figures for December show some 74,000 arrests; this is 7% more than in November,” he said.
The new administration, he added, “faces clear choices: an effective immigration strategy or an open border.”
“If Biden’s team implements its campaign promises from day one, it will create a full-blown crisis in the coming weeks,” he continued. “Those promises, which include the extension of DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program), the end of the Migrant Protection Memorandum, the provision of health care (to the undocumented) invite more migrants.”
Morgan said Biden’s advisors have admitted the need to delay some policies because “they know that if they are implemented they will be a colossal failure.”
“The border matters, and neglecting its security has consequences,” he added. We were labeled as racists, what we were doing was said to be immoral, but we kept going.”