White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday repeatedly insisted that the Biden administration is not finishing President Donald Trump’s border wall, even though the administration said it will complete unfinished gaps of wall in Arizona.
Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that four wide gaps in the border wall near the Morelos Dam in the Yuma sector will be completed using funding from the agency’s 2021 budget. The decision to complete the project comes after President Joe Biden halted border wall construction upon assuming office and vowed that not a “single foot” of new wall would be built during his time in the White House.
So on Friday, Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked Jean-Pierre about the obvious reversal in Biden’s policy at the daily White House press briefing
“Why is the Biden administration building a border wall in Arizona?” Doocy asked.
“We are not finishing the wall. We are cleaning up the mess the prior administration left behind in their failed attempt to build a wall,” Jean-Pierre said.
She emphasized that the Biden administration returned $8 billion that the Trump administration had diverted from the Department of Defense to fund wall construction.
“We gave that back to the military for military families, for schools, for bases. That’s what that money was being used — that’s what it was taken away from,” she said, neglecting to address the question.
“But President Biden, when he was a candidate, said that ‘there will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration.’ So what changed?” Doocy followed up.
“We are not finishing the wall,” the press secretary insisted.
Doocy tried another approach with his questions.
“If walls work in that part of Arizona, is this the administration trying to get migrants to cross somewhere else, like in Texas? What is the plan?”
Jean-Pierre repeated her previous answer before adding, “we are trying to save lives.”
“By finishing the wall, is this —” Doocy began before Jean-Pierre cut him off.
“We are not finishing the wall,” she said.
“By filling in? Finishing?” Doocy probed, searching for a word to describe how a previously uncompleted section of physical barrier at the southern border will now be completed under Biden’s directive.
“We are not finishing the wall,” Jean-Pierre said for the fifth time.
“By filling in the wall, is this racist? Because in 2019, when the former guy was proposing a wall, you said that it was this racist wall. So how is this any different?” Doocy asked.
“I’m not even sure how you get to your first question to this question that you just asked me. I will say this, a border wall … is ineffective use of taxpayer dollars,” Jean-Pierre said. She went on to repeat for the sixth time that the Biden administration is not “finishing” the wall and that it is “cleaning up the mess that the last administration made.”
DHS explained Thursday that the Biden administration is finishing the border wall in the Yuma sector to “address operational impacts, as well as immediate life and safety risks.”
The area where there are gaps in the wall has become among the most highly trafficked crossings by illegal immigrants at the southern border.
DHS is concerned that migrants attempting to cross the border at Morelos Dam are at risk of falling and drowning in the Colorado River. There is also a hazard for Border Patrol agents responding to incidents in the area.
Finishing the wall at the Yuma Morelos Dam Project will hopefully redirect migrants to a safer point of entry where they can be processed for asylum claims or deported after they enter into U.S. custody.