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 July 12, 2023

Joe Biden cancels the Trump barrier but discreetly fills in half the voids

The Biden administration has begun discreetly filling in small portions of unfenced areas on the southern border where it abruptly halted projects during the Trump administration after the president ran a vicious campaign against the concept of a wall.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security is halfway through filling in 129 spaces in border wall projects after President Joe Biden abruptly halted the remaining 300 miles of Trump-era wall construction in January 2021, according to The Washington Examiner.

The move, which was not publicized with photographs and press conferences, is a pivot by the White House from its knee-jerk reaction of halting wall construction on Biden's first day in office, which resulted in the squandering of billions of dollars and materials from Congress.

In Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas, where more than 450 miles of 18- and 30-foot slatted steel wall was installed by former President Donald Trump, dozens of breaches have been filled. Despite these efforts, a large portion of the 2,000-mile boundary remains uninhabited.

"To date, DHS has authorized the completion of multiple life, safety, environmental and other remediation activities which include, among other activities, the closure of 129 gates and gaps across the Southwest Border," CBP said. "Of the 129 approved gates and gaps, 68 have been completed to date with an additional 50 anticipated for completion by September 30, 2023. The remaining 11 are anticipated to be completed in Fiscal Year (FY) 2024."

On day one, the Biden White House promptly halted all wall construction to ascertain if further construction was required. In studies conducted in 2021 and 2022, it was determined that 129 gaps and numerous environmental issues, such as drainage, must be addressed. But the construction was sluggish to begin.

"There never was any legitimate justification for waiting nearly 2 1/2 years to get around to doing construction that should have never stopped and that should have been completed by now," said Ken Oliver, director of Right on Immigration at the conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation. "It was a highly irresponsible and unlawful action by the Biden administration to halt construction of duly appropriated border wall funding in the first place."

The spans between projects being completed do not come close to matching the 300 miles of uninstalled new barrier.

However, the voids are being filled with funds left over from Trump's wall initiatives. The Biden administration has not disclosed the total distance covered by the gap initiatives.

In an August 2020 interview with NPR, Biden declared, "there will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration, No. 1."

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas authorized the Department of Defense to cancel all programs financed with the $10.5 billion that Trump redirected from the Defense Department. The remaining balance of $2 billion from the $10.5 billion was returned.

In addition to the $10.5 billion, Congress contributed an additional $5 billion for border infrastructure. The Biden administration decided not to spend the remaining funds on a wall, but rather on roads and other forms of infrastructure.

"The remaining $5 billion has been used to address specific deficits. The funds will also be used for the installation of vehicle-passing gates, the completion or installation of drainage systems, the completion of permanent erosion control and slope stabilization measures, the construction of border roads, and the removal of unused materials.

According to landowner and fourth-generation rancher Russell Johnson, CBP installed a matching gate in a 20-foot-wide breach in Deming that had been left open for more than two and a half years.

Written By:
Charlotte Tyler

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