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The U.S. Border Patrol’s top union official sees political reasons behind a new border wall section in Arizona after President Joe Biden vowed “not another foot” of construction during his 2020 campaign.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, noted that U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat, is in a tough reelection battle and the new border wall segment could be to “help one of their own” win reelection.
Fox News reports:
Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas announced Thursday that he had approved construction to close several gaps in the border wall in the Yuma sector that have become highly-trafficked spots for border-crossers. Mayorkas said the gaps were a safety risk for migrants due to the proximity to the Morelos Dam.
Kelly for months has been advocating for approval to close those gaps, and celebrated the announcement in a statement Thursday, taking credit for finally being able to “secure a commitment from the administration to get this done,” according to his office.
That said, actual construction on the new wall section likely would not start for months. In an interview with News11 Yuman, Kelly said Thursday he is expecting the first contract to be finalized in September, with a construction schedule yet to be worked out.
DHS noted in an announcement as well that, “[p]rior to construction” the agency “will engage in standard environmental planning and conduct stakeholder outreach and consultation” while also trying to move “as expeditiously as possible.”
The DHS announcement regarding the proposed new wall section just happened to have come three months before Kelly faces a tough reelection in Arizona, where the GOP is hoping to reclaim one of the state’s two Senate seats that had been in Republican hands for years. The other seat is currently held by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat with moderate leanings who has often frustrated Biden’s agenda along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in the 50-50 chamber.
Judd told Fox News that he would not be shocked to discover that the decision was motivated by politics, calling the announcement “nothing but 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 will 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,” he said.
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tried to spin the announcement as the administration simply making a needed upgrade. In response to a question about the wall segment from Fox News’ Peter Doocy, Jean-Pierre said that the administration was “not finishing up a wall, we are cleaning up the mess the prior administration made.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Kelly’s campaign told the outlet that “Senator Kelly’s work is not governed by political statements and instead is entirely informed by representing the interests of Arizona, which is why he’s called for closing gaps in the border where they make sense since 2019.”
“Senator Kelly also knows that more needs to be done to make the southern border secure, orderly, and humane which is why in addition to this announcement, Kelly also helped secure $1 billion in resources to CBP,” the spokesperson added, according to Fox News.
Last week in an ad, the Republican National Committee attacked Kelly over the open wall segment, accusing him of “one of many betrayals” from the first-term senator.
“Mark Kelly doesn’t care about the border — he has rubberstamped Biden’s open border agenda every step of the way. Arizonans will vote him out come November,” RNC spokesperson Will O’Grady told Fox News.
Judd added that closing the gaps in Yuma won’t entirely fix the issue of mass illegal immigration in Arizona.
“The current issue, especially in Yuma is not one that can be solved by infrastructure, it can only be solved by legislation or policy,” he said.