The Biden administration is cancelling all of the border wall construction projects former President Donald Trump launched using funds diverted from the Pentagon, officials said Friday.
What are the details?
“Consistent with [President Joe Biden’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,” Jamal Brown, deputy Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
“DoD has begun taking all necessary actions to cancel border barrier projects and to coordinate with interagency partners,” Brown added. “Today’s action reflects this Administration’s continued commitment to defending our nation and supporting our service members and their families.”
ABC News reported that the Biden administration is returning more than $17 billion to the Pentagon, which Trump had diverted under a national emergency declaration. Biden cancelled the emergency declaration in early February, calling it “unwarranted” and pausing all projects at the time.
The funds redirected back to the Pentagon will now be used for “schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account,” an official told The Hill.
The Biden administration’s move comes amid a crisis at the border, with an overwhelming number of illegal immigrants — including thousands of unaccompanied minors — pouring into the U.S. at its southern border with Mexico.
During his first address before a joint session of Congress earlier this week, Biden discussed the importance of immigrants to the U.S. but did not lay out a plan for addressing the border crisis.
Border-state senators from both sides of the political aisle took issue with the president’s omission.
Fox News reported that Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D) issued a statement after the speech, saying:
“While I share President Biden’s urgency in fixing our broken immigration system, what I didn’t hear tonight was a plan to address the immediate crisis at the border, and I will continue holding this administration accountable to deliver the resources and staffing necessary for a humane, orderly process as we work to improve border security, support local economies, and fix our immigration system.”
Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) said, “I’m disappointed that the President didn’t address this in his speech last evening, and I was hoping he’d be willing to work with a bipartisan group of Senators and Congressmen who are eager to take action.”
He added, “The time to deal with this is now, but like I said, until the Administration acknowledges that there’s a problem and that we need to work on it together, it’s going to get nothing but worse.”
The Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have both deployed the national guard in recent weeks to assist with the border crisis in their states, and have called on the Biden administration to reimburse them for the costs.
During an interview with NBC News that aired Friday, Biden said he inherited “one god-awful mess at the border,” blaming Trump for the crisis.