President Joe Biden is canceling further construction of the wall along the U.S. and Mexico border, the Department of Defense announced Friday.
“DoD has begun taking all necessary actions to cancel border barrier projects and to coordinate with interagency partners,” Pentagon spokesperson Jamal Brown said in a statement. “Today’s action reflects this Administration’s continued commitment to defending our nation and supporting our service members and their families.”
In one of his first acts in office, Biden halted progress on the border wall — a signature policy of former President Donald Trump —by freezing money for border wall construction projects and terminating Trump’s national emergency declaration along the border.
Friday’s action is another step toward ensuring those projects do not move forward and will free up that money to go to other construction projects within the military’s purview, according to Brown.
The Biden administration’s decision comes as it continues to grapple with an influx of migrants at the border, which Republicans have hammered Biden over, arguing his policies are contributing to the rising numbers.
The move will likely please progressives and pro-immigration groups, which were dismayed by the Biden administration’s decision this month to keep in place Trump’s limit on refugee admissions. The White House later spent days walking back that message and insisting that they intended to eventually meet Biden’s campaign promise of raising that annual cap to 125,000 from the 15,000 set under Trump.
The situation along the border has proven to be one of the few political vulnerabilities that Republicans have managed to pin to Biden in his first months in office, and terminating the construction contracts is sure to reinvigorate that line of attack.
Trump’s emergency declaration, which he signed in early 2019 and Biden ended in February, was an end-run around Congress after repeatedly failing to secure the funding his administration wanted to build an imposing wall along the border. As a result, Trump diverted billions from the Pentagon and Treasury Department to be repurposed for border barrier projects.
Biden later turned off that funding spigot, a decision that the Government Accountability Office in March opened a review of in order to assess whether the president followed applicable budgetary rules.