On Friday, the White House quietly ended the military’s involvement in border wall construction, canceling contracts inked during the Trump administration, leaving holes in the border wall amid an ongoing illegal immigration crisis.
The Pentagon announced the change on Friday, suggesting that freeing up the money being used to complete the “barrier project” along the southern border will ultimately benefit the United States military by allowing the funds to go to other, higher priority projects.
“The DoD has begun taking all necessary actions to cancel border barrier projects and to coordinate with interagency partners,” the Pentagon said in its statement. “Today’s action reflects this Administration’s continued commitment to defending our nation and supporting our service members and their families.”
This is, Politico notes, the second part of President Joe Biden’s efforts at ending President Donald Trump’s anti-illegal immigration border wall project; the first step was an executive order, issued the same day Biden was inaugurated, rescinding the former president’s “border emergency” declaration and freezing around $15 billion dollars in planned Congressional spending on the border wall.
Friday’s decision applies to Department of Defense contracts, specifically, according to Government Executive.
“Consistent with the president’s proclamation, the Department of Defense is proceeding with canceling all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for other military missions and functions such as schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account,” the Pentagon said.
The Defense Department also noted that money diverted from other projects to fund the border wall will be diverted back.
“[U]nobligated military construction funds that had been diverted from military construction projects will be used for previously deferred military construction projects, allowing some of these critical efforts to move forward as soon as possible,” the agency said in its statement. “The department is reviewing the deferred project list to determine funding prioritization.”
Biden’s Department of Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas said, several weeks ago, that the administration would be pursuing border “security measures,” and the White House seemed to be quietly considering continuing with some border wall segments — even going so far as to continue to pursue Trump-era eminent domain-type court cases seeking to claim private land for use for border wall projects. But they will, it seems, not be doing it through military channels.
Biden’s executive order, Mayorkas said, “leaves room to make decisions as the administration, as part of the administration, in particular areas of the wall that need renovation, particular projects that need to be finished.” Construction “could resume in gaps, gates, and areas where the wall had been built but planned technology had not been installed.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is still facing a border crisis, with a record number of migrants presenting themselves at the southern border each month. In March, more than 100,000 illegal immigrants were captured trying to jump the United States-Mexico border and the numbers for April are expected to be similar.
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