Biden will cancel border wall contracts but construction could still move forward
The Department of Homeland Security announced its intention to cancel border wall, or border barrier, contracts in Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley. However, the announcement isn’t a guarantee the project won’t proceed in the future.
The contracts were all signed during former President Donald Trump’s administration. Now President Joe Biden plans to terminate the border extension initiative and had already canceled some Laredo contracts in July.
“If Congress doesn't rescind the monies that it provided to build walls in the Rio Grande Valley sector and Laredo sector eventually President Biden will have to build those walls, he's forced to do that by law,” said Scott Nicol, a long-time activist that opposes border wall construction.
DHS’ declaration does not stop U.S. Customs and Border Protection from continuing to build a barrier not included in the contracts that replaces 13 miles of existing levee in Hidalgo County.
Activists, like Nicol, are critical of Biden for allowing this construction. They see the levee update as a loophole to continue expanding the wall.
Many worry about the environmental and human ramifications of existing and continuing border wall construction. Once Biden officially cancels the contracts, CBP will begin environmental planning for existing border wall projects along the Southern Border.
“The (Department of) Homeland Security has known from the start that these will be horribly environmentally destructive,” said Nicol. “They've also, of course, involved taking property from hundreds of private landowners.”
The wall’s expansion originated during the former presidency to deter illegal immigration and increase security along the border. But DHS says funding is better spent on more effective border security strategies like modernizing existing ports of entry.
Nicol says the announcement is promising but it’s imperative that Congress gets on board to cut off funding for construction.
“We have to now tell them that they need to reverse course, and cancel (funding), in order to save people's property and the environment,” said Nicol.
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