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Report: Biden Will Face Immediate Pressure to Halt Construction Along the Border

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Posted: Dec 04, 2020 8:15 AM
Report: Biden Will Face Immediate Pressure to Halt Construction Along the Border

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Joe Biden doesn't have a mandate. But he's under considerable pressure by those around him to nix construction of President Trump's border wall during his first few days in office. Some on the Left are even calling on Biden to tear down new miles built during the Trump administration.

Biden has vowed to halt construction on President Trump's border wall, a move that Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan and Deputy Commissioner Robert Perez warn will have dire consequences to the protection of the American people.

An Associated Press report now says Biden, despite previous votes to take private land for purposes of border security, will face immediate pressure by those around him to halt construction along the border. The report also explores what a pause in the construction might look like.

(Via the AP)

As a senator, Biden voted for efforts to take private land under the Secure Fence Act of 2006. And while he was vice president to President Barack Obama, the government continued building and pursuing lawsuits against border landowners. About 650 miles (1,050 kilometers) of barriers were completed under that law through 2011.

In South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, where [Pamela] Rivas and dozens of landowners are fighting construction, Obama built more barriers than Trump.

...

Biden will inherit a massive wall-building effort that accelerated in Trump’s final year. Work crews are blasting through mountains and destroying tree-like cactus and other habitat in Arizona and New Mexico. Almost all of the construction under Trump has taken place in wildlife refuges and Indigenous territory that already belongs to the U.S. government. While the work is considered “replacement” of older barriers, crews are removing small vehicle barriers and installing towering steel posts and lighting that are far more restrictive.

Stopping the work could force crews to leave projects half-finished and abandon steel and concrete already purchased. But allowing some construction to be finished well into 2021 could leave Biden open to criticism that he violated his pledge.

Biden’s administration could exercise termination clauses in the contracts. But the contractors could then seek settlements under federal rules, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It’s not clear how much those settlements might cost because the government has not released the contracts.

Gil Kerlikowske, who served as CBP commissioner under Obama, said he expected Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, to listen to recommendations from border agency employees who predated Trump.

“You can certainly hit the pause button and say, ‘We’re going to reexamine what’s being done,’” Kerlikowske said.

President Trump has fought to secure funding for construction along the southern border. In Mar. 2019, the Department of Defense authorized $1 billion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction of 57 miles of new wall. In May 2019, then Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved an additional $1.5 billion in Pentagon funds to build an additional 80 miles of wall along the southern border.

Townhall's Julio Rosas toured the new border wall system constructed in the El Paso Sector.

In April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched a webpage that shows where fence construction is planned, taking place, or already completed along the southern border. The webpage features an interactive map where users can see the details of the various construction sites along the southern border.

According to CBP, 415 miles of new border wall system has been completed. The AP reports says the Trump administration hopes to reach 450 miles by the end of the year.