The Pentagon on Friday announced it is canceling all border wall construction projects that were paid for by military funding — part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to cancel the Trump-era barrier.
Biden issued an executive order in January halting all construction projects related to the wall so that a review could take place. More than 450 miles had been built during the Trump administration and approximately 350 miles was already funded — some of that with money diverted from the Defense Department.
IN SPEECH, BIDEN PITCHES ‘HIGH-TECH’ BORDER SECURITY AFTER HALTING WALL CONSTRUCTION
The Pentagon said Friday that the military funding would be returned to other projects.
“Consistent with the President’s proclamation, the Department of Defense is proceeding with canceling all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for other military missions and functions such as schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account,” a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement.
“DoD [Department of Defense] has begun taking all necessary actions to cancel border barrier projects and to coordinate with interagency partners,” the statement said. “Today’s action reflects this administration’s continued commitment to defending our nation and supporting our service members and their families.”
WHITE HOUSE SAYS ‘LIMITED’ WALL CONSTRUCTION IS FUNDED, DESPITE OVERALL PAUSE
The Pentagon said that funds would be used instead for previously deferred military construction projects, and that the list of deferred projects is being reviewed.
Former President Donald Trump had made the wall a signature issue of his 2016 campaign and was touting its construction as one of the successes of his term in office during the 2020 campaign. But Democrats had furiously opposed the wall as both ineffective and a symbol of xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment. The Trump administration, and officials at the border, described it as a vital part of a broader strategy combating illegal immigration.
Trump officials had warned against halting the wall, claiming it would not only damage the ability of the U.S. to protect its borders but would also cost money and jobs in canceled contracts — although other estimates challenged that claim.
MIGRANTS STREAM THROUGH GAPS IN BORDER WALL FOLLOWING BIDEN’S ORDER TO HALT CONSTRUCTION
Biden’s move to cancel wall construction has come under increased scrutiny in recent months as a historic migrant surge has coincided with his rollback of key Trump policies — with Border Patrol officials saying that migrants are using gaps in the wall to sneak past agents and into the U.S. interior.
However, the White House has said that “limited” additional wall construction has been funded, despite an overall pause in construction — after a report that the head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had said “gaps” in the wall could still be filled.
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“Wall construction remains paused to the extent permitted by law. So some has already been funded through congressional authorization and funding allocation,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.