Campaign to Defund ICE and CBP Rallies Against Biden Administration’s Actions on Southern Border Wall

United States – Last week, news reports revealed that the Biden administration will waive 26 environmental laws –  including the Endangered Species Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the Clean Air Act – in order to build an additional 20 miles of the southern border wall in the state of Texas. 

The Defund Hate campaign, a coalition of groups that advocates for decreased funding to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), offered the following reactions to the news:

Voces Unidas RGV offered the following statement:

Voces Unidas RGV and Rio Grande Valley (RGV) communities have opened our arms, our home and our hearts to refugees, asylum seekers and people on the move for decades. Our work is centered in the interconnection of community and the space it occupies by being in the right relationship with the land and all beings along our migratory corridor. This means we not only care about the outcomes of migrating people, but the integrity of our soils and waters, and the animals and native plants that support our fragile ecosystems.

We are confused and angered by the decision to further punish the most innocent, most vulnerable people in our communities, people who are already underserved and ignored across regional and state governments, with this increase in border walls. Eighty-five percent of our communities have limited to no access to green spaces. This action further endangers our quality-of-life, limiting our access to said green spaces, recreation spaces and Indigenous sacred sites, like those of the Carrizo-Comecrudo Tribe of Texas.

The Biden Administration’s decision to eliminate established environmental, public health and cultural resource protection laws to fast-track construction of the US – Mexico border wall, after months of bottlenecks at border ports of entry due to the failed CBP One app, is a slap in the face to RGV communities that have first-hand knowledge of the failed administrative frameworks enforced by Customs and Border Protection.”

The Southern Borders Communities Coalition (SBCC) offered the following statement:

“President Biden is now in the notorious category of administrations that have denied borderlands and border communities the protection of dozens of bedrock laws. Before yesterday, this waiver authority had been invoked 30 times – 25 times under the Trump administration, and 5 times under the George W. Bush administration. This action breaks once again Biden’s campaign promise to not build ‘another mile of wall’. President Biden has violated his promise with wall construction projects from Friendship Park in San Diego, California to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.  

It’s time to rethink how we govern our borders and move towards rights-respecting policies that uphold human rights and dignity for all people who live, work and travel through our borders. The SBCC and many other border organizations condemn this move to build more deadly walls – and call on President Biden to rescind existing waivers, urge Congress to pass legislation to strike this unprecedented power granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security, rescind all previously appropriated border wall funding, and provide robust resources to address the harms created by the border wall.”

Alianza Americas offered the following statement:

“At the beginning of his administration, President Biden issued a proclamation suspending construction of the wall and instructing that the resources earmarked for it be allocated to other purposes. Nearly three years later, the administration has reversed its course, bowing to pressure from anti-immigrant white supremacist groups by announcing the construction of this small section of the wall. Rather than being an effective policy, it represents a significant setback with a high symbolic value and fuels anti-immigrant rhetoric. We expected much more from this administration and its campaign promises.”

Alliyah Lusuegro, Outreach Coordinator for the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, said:

“We are dismayed by the Biden administration’s decision to fast-track border wall construction which would egregiously defy 26 bedrock environmental, public health, and cultural preservation laws, in addition to taking taxpayer money from Trump-era funds. This far-right dream of a border wall is a death sentence for immigrants. Currently, Congress is in a scramble to set the appropriated budget for this fiscal year, where the U.S. has spent too much already for homeland security in FY 2023 at $51.1 billion – and half of this was for ICE and CBP. We’re calling on all branches of government to rescind border wall funds and to put that money where people need it: housing, healthcare, education, just climate solutions, and a transformative budget beyond the enforcement paradigm that welcomes immigrant communities.” 

Gabriela Viera, Senior Advocacy Manager at Detention Watch Network, said,

“We are enraged that the Biden administration broke its own campaign promise by waiving environmental protections to continue deadly border wall construction. Regardless of the press secretary’s claims, DHS has historically circumvented congressional appropriations time and again—in fact, billions spent on the existing border wall under the Trump administration were NOT congressionally appropriated but transferred in from other federal agencies. The administration never fails to move money around for ramping up militarization at our borders, but refuses to disrupt decades of failed immigration policy that has made the US-Mexico border the world’s deadliest migration land route. Congress must use its spending authority to rescind funds appropriated under the previous administration for border wall construction, and President Biden must exercise his authority to end it.”

Raúl García, Earthjustice Vice President of Policy and Legislation, said: 

“It is disappointing to see the same policies that hurt so many communities and ecosystems in the last administration being repeated by the current one. Trump’s border wall remains one of the most hated and divisive acts of his time in office. It was based on the racist policies of former President Trump and extremist Republicans and has since resulted in irreparable harm to endangered species and habitats, the destruction of Indigenous sacred sites, and increasingly militarized border communities. By waiving bedrock environmental laws meant to protect communities, vibrant ecosystems, and cultural resources, Trump’s hastily constructed wall has further burdened border residents with more flooding, more erosion, and more unnecessary pollution.

Erick Meza, Sierra Club Borderlands Coordinator, said:

 “Since 2008, Sierra Club’s Borderlands program has been advocating to stop this ineffective way to approach this complex issue. We have seen closely over recent years the large negative impact the construction of border walls has on the environment and border communities. What we see are more migrant deaths, sacred Native American sites destroyed, critical wildlife corridors interrupted, the free flow of water blocked, and the erosion that has compromised the border infrastructure itself. All this money will be wasted without addressing any of the root causes of immigration and the worsening climate crisis. We can’t continue to ignore environmental laws; border communities deserve the same protection as the rest of the country. We urge President Biden and the Department of Homeland Security to do what is right and protect the environment and border communities.”

Bruna Bouhid-Sollod, Senior Political Director at United We Dream, said: 

“This decision goes completely against the promises of President Biden who, both on his campaign trail and first days in office, proclaimed an end to building Trump’s wall. It’s disheartening to see President Biden continue the harmful tactics and policies of his MAGA predecessor. In a time where we see constant attacks on immigrants we need swift action to welcome and treat all immigrants with respect and dignity. Continuing to build this border will not only create dangerous conditions for migrants seeking refuge in the U.S., but will also hurt border communities while jeopardizing protections for clean water, Indigenous graves, and endangered species. The administration must reverse this decision and stop building Trump’s wall once and for all.”

Pablo DeJesús, Executive Director of Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice, said:

“We are disappointed that the Biden administration is waiving more than 20 federal laws and regulations and proceeding with the construction of additional sections of the border wall in Starr County, Texas. These are some of the same policies that hurt so many people and damaged the environment during the previous Administration. Corruption, political instability, violence, and natural disasters in Central and South America are the reasons most people feel compelled to leave their homes and come to the United States. Building additional miles of wall will do little to slow down such immigration but will likely increase the demand for human smugglers. Our Unitarian Universalist affirmations of the worth and dignity of every person, justice and compassion in human relationships, and respect for our environment lead us to call for the President and Congress to work together to find fair and just, long-term solutions to the challenges of immigration to the United States.”

Becca Assaki, Community Organizer at Tsuru for Solidarity, said:

Biden’s decision to build the border wall is an inhumane and violent policy that endangers migrants and border communities and fundamentally erodes indigenous sovereignty. On Indigenous People’s Day, we stand in solidarity with Indigenous, border and immigrant communities targeted by this policy. The Japanese American community has not forgotten tribal allies who resisted the use of their lands to incarcerate Japanese Americans during WWII. We condemn Biden’s expansion of Trump’s border wall and call for border policies that are rooted in human rights and dignity for all.”

Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director of the National Immigration Project, said: 

We are dismayed to hear that President Biden is walking back on his promise to stop the construction of the border wall. Beyond wasting taxpayer dollars and serving as a symbol of anti-immigrant animus, the border wall creates more dangerous conditions for migrants seeking refuge in the United States and will harm both people and the environment along the border. Unfortunately, this announcement is just the latest of many examples of how the Biden administration has reneged on the promises it made to immigrant communities. 

As a nationwide membership organization, the National Immigration Project is committed to working hand in hand with its partners and members to continue demanding that the Biden administration immediately stop the construction of the border wall and instead take action to implement more just and humane immigration policies.

Danilo Zak, Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy at Church World Service, said: 

“The administration’s actions not only run contrary to President Biden’s promises on the campaign trail, but to our most treasured values as a nation. We would be better off embracing our spirit of welcome, not the enmity of exclusion. Meanwhile, as the president has championed mending our divisions and creating paths to expand our capacity to welcome, he is contrarily committing to build a wall on our southern border that alienates hopeful Americans from our communities. Our cities, towns, and neighborhoods have shown the willingness and ability to welcome the stranger. They have seen that through accepting new neighbors, how our economies and culture have benefited. The federal budget is a moral document that should be used to invest in community wholeness. To instead invest in a wall, or to disregard a population in need of protection, is counter to what our communities want and need.”

Janay Cauthen, Executive Director of Families For Freedom, said:

“We are disappointed but, not discouraged by Biden’s announced steps in continuing the construction of the Wall in Texas. While it is sad that we are still being led by a legislation we thought we escaped from the removal of Trump from office, we know from experience that our fight for true justice and reform is never complete. While our members continue to seek shelter in our communities, many did leave behind family members who will now face greater challenges in coming to our country to seek refuge. FFF will continue to stand up and represent the underrepresented for as long as we are able to. #FreeThemAll #JusticeForAll.”

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, said:

“We are dismayed by the Biden administration’s expediting of border wall construction, skirting 26 environmental, public health, and cultural preservation laws. As a human rights organization, we believe in facilitating safe passage and access to services for migrants. We are disappointed to see President Biden renege on his campaign promises, and continue the harmful, destructive immigration policies from the Trump administration. In Jewish tradition, we are commanded to welcome the stranger, as we ourselves were strangers in Egypt (Mishpatim). Only the worst villains in the Torah subject their fellow humans to further trauma in moments of need — from the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah, who turn their backs on starving travelers and punish those who help them; to Potiphar, who throws captive Joseph in jail on fake charges; to Pharaoh, who enslaves the Israelites after they come to Egypt to escape famine and drought. T’ruah remains committed to an immigration system centered on justice and transparency.”


The #DefundHate campaign, composed of organizations representing directly impacted communities, faith leaders, and civil rights and immigrant rights advocates, is committed to divestment from agencies that tear apart our families and terrorize our communities. For too long, our representatives have said they care about our communities while simultaneously funding aggressive immigration enforcement and deadly immigration jails. They must be held accountable to keep their promises and stand with the immigrant community. We call on our members of Congress to say no and vote against wasting taxpayer dollars on an abusive and deadly immigration enforcement system. Instead, we want our tax dollars used to strengthen our families and communities by investing in education, housing, nutrition and health care programs that provide opportunity and increase well-being.