The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday announced it would finish several gaps in the border wall near cities located in Arizona, California, and Texas, including San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso, and Del Rio.
CBS News reports DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordered the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to build barriers to close the "small" gaps along some sections of the wall left open when construction was halted in January by President Biden.
The announcement from the Biden administration comes after Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) spent months holding the administration accountable for its failures to enforce the law and preserve national security at the southern border.
Lankford released a report that exposed billions in waste to pay contractors to babysit the border wall materials at these sites while the Biden administration "studied" it, even though Congress already allocated the money to build the wall.
As CBN News reported in March, Lankford traveled to the Arizona border and called out the Biden administration for taking unnecessary steps to halt border fence construction, leaving unfinished holes at the southern U.S. border.
The Oklahoma senator exposed the literal gaps that remain, even though the materials had already been purchased and were already on site.
"You can see the giant gaps in the fence for yourself in this video. It's ridiculous the fence is 95% and won't be completed. This is a problem created by Biden's administration – stopping construction weakens the effectiveness of the fencing structure and the technology. It makes no sense," he said in a Facebook post from the border.
Oklahoma Senator Responds
"Today, the Biden administration has finally acknowledged what I have been pushing for months, we should close the gaps in our border wall. Leaving dozens of gaps in the border wall only helps the cartels and those illegally crossing our border. I have demanded the gaps in the wall be closed for months. Now the Biden administration has relented," Lankford said in a statement.
"We have a crisis at our southern border that is a direct result of the Biden policy of failing to enforce our laws. This year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has encountered over 1.8 million migrants at the southwest border alone, the most ever recorded in our nation's history, and is on track to encounter two million migrants this year. All while Biden and his team have told Americans that this is not a crisis. Biden's team has wasted billions of taxpayers' dollars to appease the far left open borders radicals, but the rest of the nation has suffered the consequences," the Republican senator continued.
Biden Halted Border Wall Construction in January
Following his inauguration in January, President Biden ordered a halt to the construction of the southern border wall started by former President Donald Trump.
As CBN News reported in late January, the wall construction was halted even though materials to finish the gaps in the wall were already on site. Pieces of the large metal barrier were left to rust.
In the months that have followed, Republican lawmakers and border-state governors have repeatedly criticized the administration for the decision which has resulted in more than two million illegal migrants crossing the border, overwhelming U.S. Border Patrol agents and the agency's detention facilities.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council told CBN News in June the situation resulted in "complete and total chaos."
Border State Governors Respond
Inactivity from both the Biden administration and Congress forced the governors of southern states to add to the federal government's border enforcement, including using National Guard troops and state law enforcement officers to help Border Patrol agents deal with the crisis.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott even used old shipping containers to plug the holes in the border wall. He also pledged to finish gaps in the wall using private donations and set up a website to take private donations for the wall construction. As of Dec. 21, more than $54 million has been collected for the project.
Last weekend, Abbott visited the first stretch of the border wall built by the state of Texas in Starr County, according to The Texas Tribune. As of Dec. 18, about 880 feet of that barrier had been erected.
"This unprecedented action is needed for one single reason, and that's because the Biden administration has failed to do its job," Abbott said.
DHS Secretary Grilled for Delay in Border Wall Construction
DHS Secretary Mayorkas was grilled by Republicans during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last month for his ongoing delay to finish the wall and the lack of enforcement that has allowed migrants to flood into the country.
Back in April, Mayorkas said the White House was considering restarting border wall construction in order to fill in "gaps" that have become apparent during the immigration crisis. But the administration was very slow to act.
During the Senate hearing last month, Mayorkas called migrants who fail to report an "enforcement priority" for his department, claiming they would not be able to simply disappear into the United States. Mayorkas stressed that point frequently after several media reports cited leaked immigration documents that some lawmakers believe contradict DHS enforcement policy.
According to Lankford's office, one of those documents reads: "Don't worry if you are past the 60-day deadline to report from the time you entered the United States. Come in so you can help ensure the best outcome for your case."
The Oklahoma senator successfully blocked Biden's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office from opening a "surge overflow temporary facility" at the Great Plains Correctional Institution in Hinton, Oklahoma, that would have been used to process migrants who crossed the border illegally and release them into western Oklahoma.