An emergency declaration allows US presidents to circumvent the usual political process and to access military funding.
Various types of fencing totaling 654 miles were already in place before Donald Trump became president in 2017.
During his time in office, 80 miles of new barriers were built where there were none before, and almost 400 miles replaced existing parts of the structure.
Former Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller took to Twitter to comment on the decision, writing “Biden loves illegal immigration”.
However, some parts of the Trump administration’s immigration policy will be left in place.
At a press conference on February 10, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki appeared to confirm the new administration would keep a Trump-era policy that allowed border officials to summarily expel undocumented immigrants amid the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “Due to the pandemic and the fact that we have not had the time, as an administration, to put in place a humane, comprehensive process for processing individuals who are coming to the border.
“Now is not the time to come, and the vast majority of people will be turned away.”
The longest shutdown in US history
lasted 35 days and cost the country’s economy an estimated $11 billion.
Details have yet to be released but
aides familiar with the negotiations say it includes $1.375 billion in funding
for 55 miles of new fencing at the border, a small part of the more than 2,000
miles promised by President Trump.
The wall would be built in the Rio
Grande Valley, in Texas, using existing designs, such as metal slats, instead
of the concrete wall that Donald Trump had demanded.
According to recent reports, there
was also an agreement to reduce the number of beds in detention centers to
40,250 from the current 49,057.
The talks had reached an impasse earlier with Republicans strongly rejecting
Democrats’ demands for a limit to the number of undocumented migrants already
in the US who could be detained by immigration authorities.
Republican Senator Richard Shelby said on February 11: “We got an agreement on all of it.
“Our staffs are going to be
working feverishly to put all the particulars together. We believe that if this
becomes law, it’ll keep open the government.”
However, by yesterday, some of President Trump’s conservative allies had
already denounced the deal, with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity calling it a
House Freedom Caucus leader Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina said the agreement failed “to address the critical priorities outlined by Border Patrol Chiefs”.
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