Migrants approach the border wall in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Wednesday, December 21, 2022, on the other side of the border from El Paso, Texas.
Washington CNN  — 

President Joe Biden said Thursday that he doesn’t believe border walls work, even as his administration said it will waive 26 laws to build additional border barriers in the Rio Grande Valley amid heightened political pressure over migration.

According to a notice posted to the Federal Register Wednesday, construction of the wall will be paid for using already appropriated funds earmarked specifically for physical border barriers. The administration was under a deadline to use them or lose them. But the move comes at a time when a new surge of migrants is straining federal and local resources and placing heavy political pressure on the Biden administration to address a sprawling crisis, and the notice cited “high illegal entry.”

Biden – who, as a candidate, vowed that there will “not be another foot” of border wall constructed on his watch – defended the decision to reporters Thursday, saying that he tried to get the money appropriated for other purposes but was unsuccessful.

“I’ll answer one question on the border wall: The border wall – the money was appropriated for the border wall. I tried to get them to reappropriate it, to redirect that money. They didn’t, they wouldn’t. And in the meantime, there’s nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated. I can’t stop that,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office.

Asked whether he believes the border wall works, Biden answered, “No.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated forcefully that there had been no change to the administration’s policy at a news conference in Mexico City on Thursday.