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Biden administration is repairing levee, not expanding border wall

May 14, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is restarting border wall construction in the Rio Grande Valley.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Missing context. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers clarified on Twitter that it has begun work to repair the Rio Grande Valley’s flood barrier system, which was previously partially excavated to make way for the border wall. The work does not involve expanding the border wall.

THE FACTS: Media reports shared on Twitter this week set off a cascade of misinformation about a project to repair a levee at the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

“BREAKING: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will restart border wall construction in Rio Grande Valley,” the Twitter account @Breaking911 posted on Wednesday, citing Fox News Channel.

Bill Melugin, a national correspondent for Fox News, also made the claim in a tweet that he later deleted and corrected.

The misleading claim spread to other platforms, including Facebook, where Dan Scavino, a former White House social media director under former President Donald Trump, shared a screenshot of @Breaking911’s tweet with a GIF of Trump winking.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers responded to the claims, tweeting that it had “started critical work to repair the Rio Grande Valley’s flood levee, which was excavated to make way for border wall.” It clarified, “This remediation work will not involve expanding border barrier.”

The Biden administration announced in April its intentions to address the risks of flooding and soil erosion from unfinished sections of the wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

Construction under the Trump administration “blew large holes” into the flood barrier system of low-lying regions in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the Homeland Security Department said in a statement. It said it will “quickly repair” the flood barrier system without extending the wall.

The department said it would also fix “improper compaction of soil and construction materials” along parts of a 14-mile (22.4-kilometer) barrier in San Diego and soon unveil plans to address additional damage from border wall construction during Trump’s presidency. The San Diego wall is largely in unpopulated stretches in areas restricted to Border Patrol agents.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536