Nearly a year ago, President Biden took office and discontinued the building of the southern border wall. Efforts to address the halted construction have now begun. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has finally been authorized to “close small gaps” in the wall and start cleaning up construction sites.

In a statement this week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that wall-building projects begun by the Department of Defense in the CBP sectors of California, Arizona, and parts of Texas will be turned over to his agency so they can address any environmental and safety concerns.

The work that is needed for renovations includes erosion control and slope stabilization, installation of drainage systems to prevent flooding, construction and improvement of access roads, and removal of building materials that are no longer needed.

CBP will also work to strengthen the foundations of existing barriers, close any gaps that remain open from prior incomplete construction, and complete any work that needs to be done on gates, including storm gates that are inoperable.

Mayorkas said that the Biden administration is still encouraging Congress to cancel any further border wall funding that was secured by President Trump during his term. In the meantime, they plan to use the existing funds to address issues stemming from the incomplete barrier construction and improve technology to secure the border.

“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,” said the Department of Homeland Security in a statement.

Republicans in Congress have criticized the decision to cease building the border wall. For instance, Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, during a Department of Homeland Security oversight hearing on November 16, pointedly asked why a wall is useful in protecting the White House, but not the border.

According to Mayorkas, advanced surveillance technology is the best way to ensure security at the border between the U.S. and Mexico, considering it stretches across two thousand miles. “We’re not going to construct a border wall on the ragged and jagged cliffs in certain parts of the border,” he said.

It is currently unclear when cleanup and remediation work will begin, although it is expected to be in the first quarter of 2022.

Meanwhile, Governor Abbott has taken matters into his own hands and announced Texas will build its own wall and increase State border funding.

Abbott said, “Biden allows open border policies and refuses to enforce laws passed by Congress to secure the border and enforce immigration laws. Texas is stepping up to do the federal government’s job.”