US-MEXICAN BORDER — "I'm not going to get in trouble am I? Oh wait, it's my last day...so what are they going to do, fire me?" one construction worker told me on Thursday while we climbed into his vehicle next to the border wall system so I could get a tour of what was being built before President Joe Biden issued an executive order halting further construction.
Biden signed the executive order to fulfill his campaign promise of stopping the construction of the new border wall system that was being implemented by former President Donald Trump's administration. While some areas on the southwest border saw a whole new wall being put in place where none existed before, the new wall system also replaced old barriers that were laughably easy to get over, such as old fencing in the El Paso Sector.
The construction crew was working hard to demobilize and bring their equipment, such as excavators and bulldozers, out of the area as soon as possible in order to comply with the executive order. I was told the crew was about two months away from completing the project they had been working on, which was now over with the quick signing of a pen.
I was then shown an area where the wall system ended, which was at the base of another rocky hill. The driver told me up until the executive order, there were ongoing bids to have the wall system be extended to go over the hill. My impromptu driver then cracked a dry joke about how Biden might next go after his 401(k).
A section of the border wall system ends at the base of a hill. Townhall Media/Julio Rosas
The immediate effects of Biden's executive order were the loss of jobs for the crew, similar to the workers on the Keystone Pipeline who were affected by a different Biden executive order.
"My plans? Go find something up north up by the union or something," the driver said.
I asked how everyone else on his crew, about 20 people, felt about the cancelation of their project.
"F*cked, to be honest with you," he replied. "A lot of these guys, they don't have nothing" because this was the only prospect that was employing them during these rough economic times. "A lot of people don't know what else they're going to do."
"If you want my personal opinion, [the wall] was actually a good thing. You talk to a lot of locals in town and everything" and they were appreciative of what we were doing, the driver added, "We feel like our country really don't give a sh*t about us."
He pointed to how the traffic from illegal crossings decreased after the new bollards were put in where none were before. With the wall system not being extended not too far from where they were working, illegal crossings would now take place over there.
Not all who were involved with the border wall system felt the same way. Charles Grube, the business manager and financial secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 570, told Townhall the new wall should not have been built.
"I'm taking a wait and see approach...if they did need the security system, and that's what we were installing, was the security for it, and hopefully, they'll continue with that. But if not, the wall, in my opinion, shouldn't have been built in the first place," Grube said.
Grube said while his union members are set back with the lack of work at the moment, he believes they'll "recover quite well" since they are in the process of negotiating new projects.
There are some questions as to if anything else will be built since the funding for more miles has already been allocated by Congress. The Washington Post noted Biden could potentially allow roadways, gates, sensors, and lights to be built, just not any actual "wall," which would align with his campaign promise to not build "another foot."
When he was in the Senate, Biden voted in favor of the H.R. 6061, also known as the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which started the building of tall fencing along with the southwest border. While an improvement to what was in place before, it can be easily cut into, requiring constant patchwork.