In today’s US construction news, read about how, in carrying out a flagship program of outgoing President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden’s administration announced on Thursday that it will add sections to a border wall to deter record migrant crossings from Mexico. On the other hand, on Thursday, October 5, at least 1,000 birds were killed as they crashed into a single building in Chicago during their migration south to their wintering sites. Within 1.5 miles of McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America that is entirely made of glass, volunteers are still collecting bird carcasses.
Biden Intends to Use Trump-era Funds to Erect More US Border Barriers
Original Source: Biden to build more US border wall using Trump-era funds
On Thursday, President Joe Biden’s government announced it would add border wall sections to prevent record migrant crossings from Mexico, continuing previous President Donald Trump’s stance.
Trump is the Republican frontrunner to confront Biden in the 2024 presidential election. Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign was based on the slogan “Build That Wall.”
After entering office in January 2021, Biden issued a proclamation guaranteeing that “no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall” and reviewed all allocated resources.
Due of the need to spend 2019 Trump administration funds, the government argued Thursday’s decision did not violate Biden’s statement.
“No new Administration policy on border walls,” stated Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. From the start, this Administration has said a border wall is not the answer.”
Mayorkas announced earlier this year that the construction project was allocated by the previous administration and the law forces the government to spend the monies. “We have repeatedly asked Congress to rescind this money but it has not done so and we are compelled to follow the law,” said he.
Trump quickly declared victory and demanded an apology.
“As I have stated often, over thousands of years, there are only two things that have consistently worked, wheels, and walls!” Trump posted online. “Will Joe Biden apologize to me and America for taking so long to get moving…”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called it “a step backwards.”
Political issue: immigration
A September Reuters/Ipsos poll indicated that 54% of Americans feel that “immigration is making life harder for native-born Americans,” making immigration a possible presidential campaign subject.
That remark was supported by 73% Republicans and 37% Democrats.
The Biden administration’s border barrier development will draw criticism from immigration groups and environmentalists opposed to more construction.
Biden’s Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday in the Federal Register that it required to waive several laws, regulations, and other legal criteria to build barriers in Starr County, Texas.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote in the Federal Register that Border Patrol personnel in Rio Grande Valley Sector have encountered over 245,000 immigrants this fiscal year.
“There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries,” stated.
“Starr County is home to some of the most spectacular and biologically important habitat left in Texas,” said center for biological diversity Southwest conservation advocate Laiken Jordahl, who opposed the wall. “And now bulldozers are preparing to rip right through it.”
The White House said it has adopted a different strategy to solve the “broken immigration system” Biden “inherited,” including legalizing migrants and investing in border security technologies.
Trouble with record migrations
Under Biden, the U.S.-Mexico border has seen record migrant crossings, peaking in September. The administration has struggled operationally and politically.
Biden initially promised to roll down many of Trump’s immigration initiatives, but he maintained Title 42, a COVID-19 public health order that authorized border officers to deport individuals to Mexico without asylum.
After Title 42 expired on May 11, the Biden administration replaced it with a strict new rule that required migrants to book an appointment using a government-run smartphone app before approaching a lawful port of entry or face a harsher asylum hurdle.
After the new regulation was announced, migrant numbers dropped, but in recent weeks they rose again, spurred in part by thousands of Venezuelan refugees.
On Thursday, Biden administration officials indicated they will resume Venezuela deportation flights, which had been postponed due to tense relations.
In the past two years, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have crossed the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama to reach the U.S.-Mexico border, many fleeing economic and political turmoil.
The influx of migrants has stretched border and northern U.S. communities. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 2 million immigration court cases are ongoing, which can take years to resolve. Asylum seekers can be freed.
Republican governors along the border have bused some migrants to Democratically governed cities like New York and Chicago, where some Democratic officials now criticize Biden for not stopping the crossings.
After local shelter services were swamped, New York City Mayor Eric Adams launched a tour to Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador on Thursday to tell would-be migrants his city cannot accommodate them.
The Washington-based Migration Policy Institute estimates 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Some have lived and worked in the country for decades.
Biden attempted to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill early in his presidency, but Republican opposition stalled it.
At Least 1,000 Birds Died in One Day When They Hit a Building in Chicago
In a Chicago building crash on Thursday, October 5, at least 1,000 birds died as they traveled south to winter. Volunteers are still gathering bird carcasses 1.5 miles from McCormick Place, North America’s largest glass-covered convention center.
“It’s the tip of an iceberg but it’s it’s a huge, huge amount of birds we found both dead and injured,” said Annette Prince, director of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors. This was the group’s largest number of bird collisions from one building in a day.
Between late Wednesday, 4 October, and early Thursday, 5 October, 1.5 million birds were estimated to be in the air over Cook County, home to Chicago. We found Tennessee warbler, hermit thrush, American woodcock, and other songbird carcasses.
“Not every bird that hits the window is going to leave behind a body,” said University of Western Ontario bird window collision researcher Brendon Samuels.
He said the true number of injured birds will be revealed over the next few days as people pick up birds in downtown Chicago.
Samuels said they often watch birds hit glass and fly away, critically injured and dying within hours.
During peak migration in spring and fall, many birds die in a limited area. Birds can get lost in adverse wind, rain, and fog, and city light pollution can trap them in lethal structures.
“Anywhere you have glass, you’ll have birds hitting the windows,” said American Bird Conservancy’s Bryan Lenz. Collisions kill up to a billion birds annually, and in Chicago, the dead and injured birds were presumably traveling from Canada to South and Central America.
Wherever birds travel, they provide economic ecosystem services that keep ecosystems running. Birds returning after catastrophic wildfires like those in Canada can spread seeds and regenerate forests. Due to global warming, insect populations rise, and birds that eat them can help protect humans and food systems.
Chicago has the worst light pollution in the US for migrating birds. Building lights can be turned off to reduce mortality. A 2021 McCormick Place research indicated that turning out half the lights on major buildings can cut crashes by six to 11 times. McCormick Place participates in Lights Out Chicago, which makes buildings turn off or dim lights at night unless someone is inside.
“Lakeside Center [part of McCormick Place] is hosting an event this week, so the lights have been on when occupied. A McCormick Place representative claimed the lights are off when the room is empty.
Window glass with dots or patterns can reduce reflection and help birds determine if they can fly through.
Chicago’s 2020 bird-friendly design legislation has yet to take effect. JB Pritzker signed the Bird Safe Buildings Act in 2021, which “requires bird-friendly design to be incorporated into the construction and renovation of state-owned buildings” in Illinois, says Audubon.org.
“We have a lot of existing buildings that are killing birds, not just new construction,” according to Samuels. Retrofits, tax credits for environmental projects, and bird-friendly windows can be cost-effective solutions. “We have solutions, just policy implementation.”
Summary of today’s construction news
In summarizing, Mayorkas claimed that the funding for the construction project had been appropriated under the previous administration and that the law required the government to use it, notwithstanding an earlier announcement. “We have repeatedly asked Congress to rescind this money, but it has not done so, and we are compelled to follow the law,” he stated.
On the other hand, Chicago adopted a bird-friendly design law in 2020, but it has not yet come into effect. JB Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, signed the Bird Safe Buildings Act in 2021, which, according to Audubon.org, “requires that bird-friendly design be incorporated into the construction and renovation of state-owned buildings” in the state.