Nearly a year after President Joe Biden suspended development of the southern border wall, his administration announced Monday it will close gaps left open by the halt in construction.
The Department of Homeland Security said it will focus on gaps in the border in its Tucson, El Paso, and Yuma sectors—regions that have seen record levels of illegal 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 so-called emergency rescue gates to save migrants stranded in irrigation canals.
Biden in January suspended construction of the southern border wall, started under former president Donald Trump, leaving hundreds of miles of border construction incomplete. In the months since, U.S. authorities apprehended more than 1.7 million migrants at the border, according to Customs and Border Protection, the highest single-year count on record.
Among other efforts to address problems stemming from the halt in border construction, DHS said it will tackle soil erosion and flooding near unfinished projects.
The initiatives are expected to begin next year, CBP officials told CBS News. In the agency’s statement, DHS called on Congress to cancel funds it allocated for border wall construction during the Trump administration.
“The administration continues to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border,” the agency said.