Even though Trump is out of office, that doesn’t mean his political power has waned. Now even Biden is having to bend the knee.
And Donald Trump just forced Joe Biden to do the one thing he hates.
Homeland Security announced Friday that it will construct 20 more miles of border wall, fulfilling a key campaign promise made by former President Donald Trump.
The government claimed it had no choice but to begin construction due to the wording of the 2019 funding bill, which included money explicitly for border wall construction.
Some $190 million remains unspent, and President Biden risks breaking the law if he does not spend it on the wall by September.
“Until and unless Congress cancels these funds, the law requires DHS to use the funds consistent with their appropriated purpose,” Customs and Border Protection said in an unsigned statement announcing the new construction.
The move marks a significant retreat for Mr. Biden, who during the 2020 campaign had vowed there would “not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.”
CBP stated that the new construction will take place in the Yuma and El Centro sectors of the Border Patrol, which span southeastern California and southern Arizona.
The wall will be an 18-foot steel bollard design, as approved by the 2019 funding bill and described by CBP as “the most operationally effective design.”
In addition to the fence panels, the department plans to install lighting, access roads, and sensors to identify unauthorized crossings. The Trump administration dubbed the package the “wall system,” and claimed that it was all necessary for border security.
Mr. Trump left office with more than 450 miles of barrier, the majority of which replaced outmoded designs. However, the Trump administration was late in constructing the roads and wall extensions. According to the Government Accountability Office, less than 69 miles of the whole wall system will have been built by 2021.
According to the audit, the government raced to build the panels in order to satisfy Mr. Trump’s campaign pledges, but cut corners on other components of the system.
“While the wall panels are typically the most costly part of border barrier construction, the full wall system remains incomplete,” GAO said.
CBP had plans and money to build more than 200 miles of wall when Mr. Trump departed office.
Mr. Biden put a stop to that on his first day in office.
He first returned funds diverted from the Defense Department for wall construction by Mr. Trump, then pleaded with Congress to cancel the remainder of the funds appropriated by Congress for the wall.
Those attempts failed, and some of the funds budgeted for 2019, 2020, and 2021 remain in the pipeline.
Congress, for example, allotted $1.375 billion in 2019. According to Homeland Security, $190 million remains and must be spent on the wall.
Late Friday, CBP stated that it will continue to plan substantial consultation with landowners, state, local, and tribal governments on how and where to build.
“DHS remains committed to the protection of the environment and will conduct environmental surveys, analyze the potential for environmental impacts from the implementation of the projects, and develop measures that avoid or minimize impacts to the greatest extent possible,” the department said.
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