John Burnett

The bulldozers, excavators, concrete trucks and water haulers are parked. The construction crews are gone. And hundreds of 30-foot-tall steel panels are stacked up and down the U.S.-Mexico border.

As promised, President Biden has halted construction of the massive wall — former President Donald Trump's signature project. The new administration has called for a two-month suspension while border security officials sort out what to do next.

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President Biden is promising kinder, more welcoming immigration policies — and raising hopes for asylum-seekers throughout the hemisphere.

Earlier this week, Guatemalan police beat back a caravan of thousands of Hondurans who were beginning the long trek to the United States border. Moreover, conditions driving people from their home countries — crime, violent spouses, joblessness and hurricane destruction — are not going away.

And this is what makes Texas border mayors nervous.

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While the taco long ago conquered America, some aficionados believe this ancient, handheld food reaches its pinnacle in the Texas-Mexico borderlands.

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Investigators in Nashville are combing the site of a Christmas morning explosion. Authorities say it was caused by an RV filled with explosives, which issued a 15-minute warning before it blew up.

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In the Coronado National Memorial — where conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado entered what is now Arizona — contractors are pulverizing the wilderness in a rush to put up as many miles of border wall as possible before the Trump administration vacates Washington.

They're dynamiting mountainsides and bulldozing pristine desert for a barrier the incoming Biden administration is expected to cancel.

Musicians — who depend on live audiences as much as they do — have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. Perhaps nowhere has this been felt more acutely than in South Louisiana, where music lies at the heart of Cajun culture.

They still gather on Saturday mornings at Marc Savoy's music store in the town of Eunice amid the rice fields and crawfish farms in what's called Cajun prairie country. Musicians pull chairs into a circle — outside now because of the virus — to play the Acadian French ballads they learned from their grandparents.

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to stop deporting minor immigrants on the grounds that they are a coronavirus threat. The government has already expelled nearly 9,000 children who crossed the border alone, seeking protection, citing a public health order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Work crews are dynamiting mountains and bulldozing access roads in the badlands of southeastern Arizona, while government lawyers have acquired a beloved birding preserve along the Rio Grande in South Texas — all to make way for a border wall that may never get built.

The completion of President's Trump's signature wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is very much in doubt. Before winning the presidential election, Joe Biden flatly told NPR: "There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration."

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Among those anxiously watching the U.S. presidential election is a Guatemalan mother and her teenaged son who have taken refuge in a church in Austin, Texas, for the entirety of Donald Trump's presidency.

Hilda and Iván Ramirez are ensconced in the Sunday school wing of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, which has given them sanctuary from deportation for more than four and a half years.

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When Tommy Fisher decided he wanted to build his own private border wall in Texas, he said he wanted to keep out trouble from Mexico.

Now that wall has created its own set of troubles on the U.S. side of the border: Engineers warn the structure will wash away in a flood, neighbors want it dismantled, and Fisher is embroiled in lawsuits.

Nonetheless, Fisher and his North Dakota construction company have landed more than $2 billion in contracts to build President Trump's official wall.

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The 10th hurricane of this season is Hurricane Delta. In this era of climate change, the storm is arriving in southwestern Louisiana, which Hurricane Laura hit just six weeks ago. NPR's John Burnett is watching from Lafayette, La. John, good morning.

About 60 Confederate monuments have come down across the U.S. amid a national reckoning on race — but nearly half as many localities that considered removing their statues have decided to keep them.

Since George Floyd's death in May that sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice, there have been votes or decisions to protect 28 monuments, according to an NPR count.

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Some 300,000 immigrants living under protected status here in the U.S. could be forced to leave after a federal appeals court ruling yesterday. NPR's John Burnett has more.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is pledging to dismantle the sweeping changes President Trump has made to the American immigration system, if he wins the White House in November.

But that's easier said than done.

"I don't think it's realistic that Biden in four years could unroll everything that Trump did," says Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C.

A priest, a newspaper editor and a mariachi musician — they've all had their work and lives upended in a corner of the country that has been devastated by the coronavirus.

More than 2,000 people in the Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas have perished in the pandemic.

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Trump's massive border wall gets all the buzz.

But U.S. Customs and Border Protection is quietly testing a new generation of free-standing surveillance towers on the Arizona border that could revolutionize border security. The telescoping towers are equipped with infrared and daytime cameras, along with laser range-finders and illuminators that can zoom in on a target miles away for a close-up. They're mounted in the bed of a Ford F-150 pickup, so they're completely mobile and can be operated remotely.

The figure of a young Confederate soldier holding a rifle has gazed out from his pedestal in front of the Harrison County Courthouse in the piney woods of northeast Texas for 114 years.

The 8-foot statue was a gift — like hundreds of others across the South — from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They are memorials to the war dead and, historians say, monuments to white supremacy and Jim Crow laws.

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