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The timing of the Biden administration’s announcement to complete the open segments of the border wall near Yuma, Arizonacould be “helping one of their own,” said Brandon Judd, chairman of the National Border Patrol Council, as Sen. Mark Kelly, (D-AZ), faces an uphill re-election fight amid GOP criticism on border security and immigration.
Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Thursday that he had approved construction to close several gaps in the border wall in the Yuma sector that have become hotspots for border commuters. Mayorkas said the gaps posed a security risk to migrants due to the proximity of the Morelos dam.
Kelly has been advocating for months for approval to fill those gaps and celebrated the announcement in a statement Thursday, taking credit for finally being able to “get a commitment from the administration to make it happen,” according to her office. .
The actual construction, however, could take months. Kelly told News 11 Yuma in a Thursday interview that it expects the first contract to be finalized in September, with the construction schedule yet to be finalized. And DHS’s announcement that “prior to construction, DHS will engage in standard environmental planning and conduct outreach and stakeholder consultation activities,” while acting “as expeditiously as possible.”
The timing of the DHS announcement comes just three months before Kelly faces a tough re-election bid in Arizona, where the GOP hopes to clinch a Senate seat.
Judd told Fox News Digital he wouldn’t be surprised if the decision was politically motivated and called the announcement “nothing more than smoke and mirrors.”
“The administration knows that border security is one of the biggest issues in Arizona, so an announcement like this, especially at this time, makes sense to try to help one of their own. But if people do the proper research, they will find that filling in the gaps with the current situation in that particular area does not help improve border security,” Judd said.
DHS did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on whether other segments of the border wall should be completed. President Biden made it clear during his 2020 presidential campaign that “not another foot” of wall would be built along the US-Mexico border in its administration. The White House did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment, but press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told Fox News’ Peter Doocy on Friday that the Biden administration is “not finishing a wall, we let’s clean up the mess the previous administration made.” .”
A spokesperson for Kelly’s campaign told Fox News that “Senator Kelly’s work is not governed by political pronouncements and instead is fully informed in representing the interests of Arizona, which is why he is called to fill the gaps at the border where they have made sense since 2019”.
The spokesperson pointed out that the mayor of Yuma commended Kelly for the action against the border wall and reiterated years of effort to address the concerns of border communities. “Senator Kelly also knows that more needs to be done to make the southern border safe, orderly and humane, which is why in addition to this announcement, Kelly also helped secure $1 billion in resources for CBP,” said added the spokesperson.
Just last week, the Republican National Committee used the unfinished sections of the Yuma border wall to attack Kelly in a press release, calling the border wall’s shortcomings “one of the many betrayals” of the first-term senator.
“Mark Kelly doesn’t care about the border – he endorsed Biden’s open border agenda every step of the way. Arizonans will vote on it in November,” RNC spokesman Will O’ said. Grady, at Fox News Digital on Friday.
Closing gaps in the Yuma border wall is only part of the problem facing the region, Judd told Fox News: “The current problem, especially in Yuma, is not one that can be solved. by infrastructure, it can only be solved by legislation or policy.
While the walls are useful tools for apprehending individuals and seizing contraband, the walls “do not deal with asylum, which is the current problem in this specific area of Yuma,” Judd said, since the cartels use asylum seekers.
“So while I’m glad the gaps are closed, completion will help when individuals try to get away. But because everyone knows the policies of this administration are such that you don’t have to try to escape, you can instead give and still achieve your goal of entering the United States by seeking asylum and being released, filling the gaps brings no relief and we can expect to see large groups of people wait on the south side of the wall to be taken into custody, continuing to drain Border Patrol resources while the cartels cross paths with their higher value commodities in areas they were able to pull resources from,” Judd said.