- White House said it was returning $2billion that had been diverted from the Pentagon for wall construction
- Announcement comes after U.S. Customs and Border Protection said agents stopped 180,034 people in May
- That represented a 674 percent increase on the same month in 2020
- Former VP Mike Pence taunted his successor, posting photographs of a visit he made to the border
- Kamala Harris in under intense pressure to make a trip to see for herself what is happening there
PUBLISHED: 08:52 AEST, 12 June 2021 | UPDATED: 12:29 AEST, 12 June 2021
The Biden administration is returning $2 billion set aside for former President Donald Trump‘s signature border wall and calling on Congress to cancel other funding, despite a surge in people trying to cross illegally.
President Joe Biden suspended construction when he took power but his new plan falls short of canceling it altogether.
‘Building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border and costs American taxpayers billions of dollars is not a serious policy solution or responsible use of Federal funds,’ said the White House Office of Management and Budget (O.M.B).+12
The OMB said Trump’s wall cost as much as $46 million per mile, dismissing it as ‘not a serious policy solution or responsible use of Federal funds’. Instead it will return $2 billion to the Pentagon to spend on its original intended purpose+12
This chart shows how 2021 border crossings – pictured in blue – rocketed on crossings made in 2020, represented by the brown line (2018 is pictured in gray, with 2019 in orange)+12
Asylum-seeking migrant families disembark an inflatable raft after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico in Roma, Texas+12
‘There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration,’ Biden said during the campaign. However, with money already allocated his administration faced legal difficulties in ending all construction
Trump stunned commentators when he announced plans for a wall on the southern border at his campaign launch in 2015.
But it quickly caught on among supporters, offering a concrete solution to a growing concern about illegal crossings, becoming his signature, populist promise.
In power, his administration built 52 miles of new slatted structures and replaced hundreds of miles of fencing.
But the O.M.B said it cost as much as $46 million per mile.
Even so, the number of arrivals has surged.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said its agents stopped 180,034 people at the border in May.
That was the fourth consecutive monthly rise and represented a 674 percent increase over the 23,237 stopped in May of last year (when COVID-19 depressed numbers).
Conservatives scent blood as the Biden administration struggles to deal with the crisis.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who was tasked with leading diplomatic efforts to slow the surge, is under intense pressure to visit the border and see for herself what conditions look.
Her predecessor Mike Pence weighed in on Friday, tweeting images of a visit he made.
‘Here’s what it looks like when a vice president visits the Southern Border…’ he wrote. +12
Former Vice President Mike Pence taunted his successor Kamala Harris on Twitter, saying it was time for her to visit the southern border and deal with the crisis there.
Maribel Rivera, an asylum-seeking migrant woman from Honduras, prays after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico in Roma, Texas. In May, CBP said it stopped more than 180,000 people trying to cross illegally into the country+12
A pair of migrant families from Brazil wait to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol agents after passing through a gap in the border wall from Mexico in Yuma, Ariz., Thursday, June 10, 2021, to seek asylum. The families are part of an influx of asylum-seekers entering the U.S. in the Yuma area from South America and other continents.+12
Trump’s border wall idea captivated a segment of voters as soon as he announced it during his campaign launch in 2015. However, he was never able to follow through on his promise to make Mexico foot the bill+12
A Haitian migrant family looks to emerge from a rocky canal adjacent to a gap in the U.S. border wall in Yuma, Arizona
Biden plans to return more than $2 billion that the Trump administration diverted from the Pentagon to help pay for the wall and use other money appropriated by Congress to address ‘urgent life, safety, and environmental issues’ created by the construction.
It also asks lawmakers not to provide any additional funding for what the Biden team believes is an unnecessary effort.
Trump vowed to build a ‘virtually impenetrable’ wall, insisting it would be paid for by Mexico, which never happened. Instead, his administration set aside about $15 billion through a combination of congressional appropriations and taking the money from the Pentagon and other parts of the government.
Biden’s decision to suspend construction prompted Republican senators to ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether the administration was violating federal law in not using appropriated money for its intended purpose.
The administration said Friday that it will use funds already set aside by Congress for ‘their appropriated purpose, as required by law’ but is requesting no new money for wall construction in the Department of Homeland Security’s 2022 budget.
Biden is instead seeking money for increased technology at the ports of entry and elsewhere, saying there are more efficient ways to stop illegal immigration and drug smuggling at the border.
The administration said it would return $2 billion taken from the Pentagon and use it for the construction projects for which the money was originally intended.+12
Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Guatemala and Mexico earlier this week to discuss the root causes of migration with the countries’ leaders ‘Do not come’ Kamala Harris warns illegal immigrants in Guatemala.
Gov. Greg Abbott announces Texas will build border wall instead
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced his state has allocated $1 billion in its fiscal year budget toward border security, telling “The Ingraham Angle” on Thursday he will use part of that money to resume the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall started by Donald Trump but hastily halted by President Biden.
Abbott, joining the program from the border near Del Rio, said he has had enough of the White House’s “willful” disregard for rule of law and for the well-being of Texans and Americans, especially those in places like Del Rio and other border towns.
“To make a fine point on it, we have to build a border wall,” said Abbott. “I’ve been down here talking to the people in the Rio Grande Valley and the way they are being overrun is reprehensible, it’s disastrous what the Biden administration has done.”
Abbott condemned Biden for ending the “Remain in Mexico” policy that Trump forged with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, which staved off some of the influx of migrants as they were instructed to file for asylum in Mexico before crossing into the United States.
“[Trump] began building the border wall and now suddenly all of that disappeared and as you highlighted, it has led to a dramatic increase in the number of people crossing the border, but it’s not just unaccompanied minors, it’s people were causing great damage and harm to the residents right here in Del Rio up and down the entire border,” said Abbott.Video
Under his state of emergency declaration, Abbott noted the Texas Department of Public Safety can increase penalties for crimes such as trespassing, on which police will elevate the number of arrests of illegal immigrants intruding into Texans’ land.
“We’re going to take this very seriously, we’re going to do everything possible to secure our border, including building a border wall,” he said, adding that he will share details on that endeavor later next week.
Abbott went on to criticize Vice President Kamala Harris‘ ineffective tact toward border security, calling the administration’s behavior “willful” and worse.
“It is purposeful. It’s wanton disregard for the border laws, for the immigration laws, for the border communities, for candidly, anybody in the United States of America,” he said.
“The Biden administration has abandoned the border, any pretense of border security, any pretense of enforcing our immigration laws. They’ve laughed it off just the exact same way that the vice president laughed it off in her interview the other day. So it is a joke to the Biden administration.
“But we are not taking it as a joke in Texas. We are going to step up and respond the way we must respond to secure the sovereignty our state, to prevent the invasion that’s taken place in front of our very own eyes,” Abbott added.
Harris notably guffawed when NBC News anchor Lester Holt recently asked her about the crisis at the border.