WASHINGTON — The Army Corps of Engineers halted construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday following President Joe Biden’s executive order, which ended the national emergency declaration that former President Donald Trump had used to justify the project.
The wall “is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to homeland security,” Biden said in the executive order, which was issued late Wednesday and directs a review of all funds spent on wall construction and orders that no other spending move forward.
“It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall,” Biden directed.
The Army Corps of Engineers “has directed our contractors involved in border barrier construction for the Department of Defense program not to install any additional physical barriers,” spokeswoman Raini Brunson said in a statement. “Only construction activity that is necessary to safely prepare each site for a suspension of work will occur over the next few days. As we pause this program, we will work closely with the Department of Defense and Department of the Army to ensure public safety and a responsible use of taxpayer dollars.”
Trump directed that the Defense Department send forces to the border in spring 2018. Those troops were used to help lay miles of concertina wire to create a border fence and provide medical, logistical and surveillance support to border agents.
There are currently more than 3,600 troops deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christian Mitchell.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said “no decision has been made about our troops at the border.”
After Congress did not approve spending on a border wall, Trump announced an emergency declaration, which allowed him to direct the Defense Department to pull unspent money that had been allocated for military construction projects at bases across the U.S. and drug interdiction funding.
As of December, approximately $15 billion had been allocated for the wall construction. The border wall contracts have been managed by the Army Corps of Engineers and built by civilian contractors. In October, former Acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf said about 400 miles of wall had been built along the 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border during Trump’s term in office.
Story by Tara Copp.