DHS ends contracts for 31 miles of Texas border wall construction in Laredo Sector

DHS ends contracts for 31 miles of Texas border wall construction in Laredo Sector

July 23, 2021

Texas plans to resume border wall construction

Dek: Fox News’ Mark Eiglarsh discusses the legal fallout from Texas’ plans on ‘Your World’

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday announced that it is terminating two border wall contracts in the Laredo Sector of Texas that amount to 31 miles of construction as part of its broader plan to stop the Trump-era project.

DHS announced it is canceling two contracts that it said “are not necessary to address any life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements” as laid out in its plan for the use of border funds.

“DHS continues to review all other paused border barrier projects and is in the process of determining which projects may be necessary to address life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements and where to conduct environmental planning,” the department said in a statement.

The 31 miles of barrier construction was funded with DHS Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations but had not yet been started in the sector. 

More than 450 miles had been built during the Trump administration and approximately 350 miles was already funded. Critics described the wall as cruel and a sign of xenophobia, but Trump-era officials described it as a vital part of border security that helped lower illegal immigration.

President Biden, who had campaigned on ending wall construction, put an immediate halt to the project and ordered a review of the federal government’s obligations.

In June, DHS detailed a plan that includes an already announced return of funding back to the Pentagon, and includes steps to end further expansion and address “life, safety and environmental concerns.”

It noted efforts to close breaches in the Rio Grande Valley that were cleared for the border wall, but that the agency said could lead to serious flooding, as well as efforts to fix soil erosion in San Diego. 

Republicans have objected to the ending of wall construction, particularly at a time when the U.S. is facing a crisis at the southern border — with more than 188,000 migrant encounters in June alone.

“The border crisis continues to worsen as a result of the Administration’s lax border policies,” Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, said in a statement to Fox News. “Last month alone, over 180,000 illegal immigrants were encountered at the Southern Border—more people than the entire population of Cedar Rapids. There is no justification for canceling border wall construction when we need to bolster border security by keeping Title 42 in place, ending catch and release, finishing the border wall, and supporting technology along the border.” 

“Instead of doubling down on failed policies that have created the worst illegal immigration crisis in decades, the Administration should reinstate the policies that secure our border, support law enforcement, and keep our communities safe,” she said.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced a lawsuit last week over the Biden administration’s ending of construction. 

“It’s a very effective tool to combat illegal activity, drug cartel pressure, and at least be able to direct illegal activity to a direction where federal authorities, state, county and local law enforcement can better interdict and contain the threat that’s being presented to border communities and folks around the country,” he told Fox News in an interview.

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced that the Lone Star state is launching its own border wall project – putting down a $250 million “down payment” on the project.

On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security repeated its call to Congress to cancel remaining funding for the wall and “instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border.”

Fox News’ Kelly Laco contributed to this report.

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