(The Center Square) – As Texas and Missouri attorneys general ask a federal court to require the Biden administration to immediately resume building the border wall with funds allocated by Congress, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was using the funds on environmental projects instead.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sued the administration in October. In November, they filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to require it to resume building the border wall using funds already appropriated by Congress to do so.
President Joe Biden halted construction of the wall as one of his first acts in office after Congress had allocated $6 billion for the wall’s construction between fiscal years 2018 and 2021.
Within a month of the AG’s motion, DHS issued a statement saying it would be using the money on environmental and clean-up projects in certain areas of Arizona, California and Texas.
Instead of building the wall, DHS is spending the money to “address life, safety, environmental, and remediation requirements for border barrier projects” located in the San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso, and Del Rio Border Patrol Sectors.
They include drainage projects to prevent flooding, installing and completing permanent erosion control measures, and construction and maintenance of access roads, including adding guardrails, signage, and integrating existing roadways, among other projects.
DHS is also in the process of terminating all Department of Defense and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers border wall construction projects. It currently costs taxpayers $3 million a day to not build the wall because of contractual obligations with the construction firm tasked with building it.
DHS also plans to dispose of already purchased materials left on the ground when construction of the wall was halted.
The Biden administration “continues to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border.”
The administration also claims it “inherited a broken immigration system – one that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars and neither kept the American people safe nor adhered to our values.” It considers the border wall an example of the Trump administration’s “misplaced priorities and failure to manage migration in a safe, orderly and humane way.”
Of the 450 miles of the wall built by the Trump administration, only 52 miles was constructed “where no barrier previously existed, with some wall segments costing American taxpayers up to $46 million per mile,” the administration adds. “The effort diverted critical resources away from military training facilities and schools, and caused serious risks to life, safety, and the environment. It also took attention away from genuine security challenges, like drug smuggling and human trafficking.”
Paxton and Schmitt argue the wall has proved to be a successful deterrent and Biden’s decision to halt construction violates the Separation of Powers, the Take Care Clause, the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Consolidated Appropriations Acts of 2020 and 2021.
“The Biden Administration is refusing to spend funds already appropriated by Congress to continue construction of the Southwest border wall, even as the Department of Homeland Security has admitted that a physical border wall is an effective defense in curtailing illegal immigration,” Schmitt said.
Their brief points to a 2018 DHS assessment of the effectiveness of physical barriers in which it said, “Walls Work. When it comes to stopping drugs and illegal aliens from crossing our borders, walls have proven extremely effective.” DHS noted that border wall construction in one sector alone led to a 90% decrease in border apprehensions.
Paxton maintains that human and drug trafficking has increased as a result of the Biden administration’s open border policies and its response to the crisis “is is irresponsible, inhumane, and inexcusable.”
“The congressionally approved border wall will help law enforcement along the border and restore order” to Texas, he said, adding, “A physical wall is essential for border security, and I am demanding that President Biden do his part to keep Texas and America safe.”
Schmitt, who has been to the southern border, recently wrote Biden, who hasn’t been to the border: “Your administration’s failure to control the massive influx of migrants – an influx invited by your lax policies – has opened the floodgates to human trafficking and will have lasting effects on Missouri and the rest of the country. Our office has been a leader in combating human trafficking. Those efforts are now in jeopardy because of your policies. Missourians want and need a secure border.”