Is Trump's border wall canceled? Joe Biden revokes emergency order and stops funding for 'unwarranted' move
The Democratic leader has already targeted Trump’s hardline immigration policies through his executive orders and said no more American taxpayer dollars will be used for the border wall
Ever since he took over office, President Joe Biden has been found to be tirelessly working towards nullifying the controversial legacy of his predecessor Donald Trump. He signed scores of executive orders in just a few weeks, many of which were to reverse policies of Trump and on Thursday, February 11, Biden rescinded the emergency order used by the former president to justify the construction of the wall on the country’s southern border, the White House announced.
Biden penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying: “I have determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border was unwarranted.” He added, “I have also announced that it shall be the policy of my administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall, and that I am directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to that end.”
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The Democratic leader has already targeted Trump’s hardline immigration policies through his executive orders and they include setting up a task force to unite children with their parents or guardians separated at the border under his predecessor’s “zero tolerance” stance. He also signed an order that would preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for undocumented residents who came to the US as minors.
The latest proclamation is the final step from Biden after he issued an executive order on the very first day of his term questioning the validity of Trump’s national emergency and seeking the construction of the wall to be stopped, according to a report by The Hill.
Trump had prioritized the border wall even before becoming the president in 2017, aiming to stop entry of illegal immigrants through the border with Mexico, although experts and his critics have repeatedly said that the massive project would see little success in meeting the goal. However, Trump remained stubborn over the wall and his clash with Congress over the structure’s funding even saw the federal government witnessing a long partial shutdown in 2018-19.
Under the emergency declaration signed in February 2019, Trump diverted $600 million from the treasury department and $1.6 billion from the defense department to the homeland security department for building the wall. The Republican continued with the proclamation in February 2020 as well, which saw him diverting an additional $3.8 billion from the Pentagon for the wall, a key agenda that he pursued during both the 2016 and 2020 election cycles.
Trump's critics in Congress welcome move
The emergency order loosened limits on taxpayers’ money and paved the way for Trump to divert funds that were originally meant for other agencies. The move put the former president in a legal soup as environmental groups and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the defense department’s spending worth $2.5 billion that had been diverted to the construction.
Trump initially floated the idea that Mexico would pay for the wall’s construction but the Customs and Border Protection reported early last year that it had found funds worth $11 billion for the mammoth structure. Members of the Congress who have been critical of the wall welcomed Biden’s letter.
Raul Grijalva, the Democratic lawmaker representing Arizona’s 3rd congressional district bordering Mexico and chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, said on Twitter that Trump’s national emergency was never about security but stealing money.
“Trump's national emergency was never about security. It was about stealing money to fund a monument to his racist policies along the Southern Border. Now we must cancel the contracts & ensure that not another foot of border wall is constructed,” he said.
Trump's national emergency was never about security.— Raul M. Grijalva (@RepRaulGrijalva) February 11, 2021
It was about stealing money to fund a monument to his racist policies along the Southern Border.
Now we must cancel the contracts & ensure that not another foot of border wall is constructed. https://t.co/Lk4PZzjs1Y
Biden’s proclamation came after his administration asked the Supreme Court to scrap an upcoming hearing on the legality of the wall, something that it agreed. “The President has directed the Executive Branch to undertake an assessment of ‘the legality of the funding and contracting methods used to construct the wall’,” the administration wrote to the SCOTUS earlier this month.
Biden’s move, however, has little reduced the polarized takes on the wall. While bodies like ACLU said it was not enough to nullify Trump’s “sham emergency order” and the Biden administration should go on to set up border communities and address issues like environmental damage the wall has caused and decimate it entirely, GOP members on the House Oversight and Reform Committee said the current administration’s move endangers the US’s national security, thwarts the will of the Congress and makes American citizens residing near the southwest border vulnerable to activities featuring cartels and smugglers.
Former senior White House advisor Stephen Miller — one of the former Trump administration’s hardliners on immigration — told Fox on Thursday, February 11, that Biden took away from the Border Patrol the “basic tools” to keep the US safe.
Conservative outlet BizPac Review slammed Biden saying in a piece that thousands of migrants from Central America were inching towards the US border to take advantage of the current administration’s “lax border enforcement policies”.
“What I want for my people, I just want to get to the US because they’re having a new president, with Biden, he’s going to help all of us,” it cited a man from Honduras telling CNN last month.
However, one of the Biden transition team officials advised a Honduran caravan heading towards the US through Nicaragua last month to halt its journey since “things at the border won’t change overnight”. Even Biden himself said along with some of his top advisors in December 2020 that though he is in favor of reversing Trump’s immigration policies, things could not see a change overnight as efforts to find a quick solution could end up complicating things more.