Billions in border wall materials rusting away under Biden, may be sold for ‘pennies on the dollar’

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COCHISE COUNTY, AZ – The “big, beautiful border wall” envisioned by former President Donald Trump is now rusting away in scrap heaps in the southwestern borderland, and material bought with billions of taxpayer dollars to build the wall will now likely be sold for “a penny on the dollar.”

The material once earmarked for creating a border across the southern border with Mexico to help control illegal border crossings and drug trafficking have lain in the Arizona desert since President Joe Biden took office in January.

In an executive order issued by President Biden on Inauguration Day, he ordered:

“My Administration is committed to ensuring that the United States has a comprehensive and humane immigration system that operates consistently with our Nation’s values.

In furtherance of that commitment, I have determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border in Proclamation 9844 of February 15, 2019 (Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Southern Border of the United States), was unwarranted.

“It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall. I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall.”

In the same proclamation, the President stated that Trump’s border wall plan was “not a serious policy solution” and an “waste of money.”

The President’s concern about wasting taxpayer money does not seem to extend to the millions of materials now lining the desert after construction companies and workers walked away from the project the day after the proclamation.

Billions in border wall materials rusting away under Biden, may be sold for 'pennies on the dollar'

Some of the material wasting away are steel bollards—18- or 33-foot-long hollow posts, most of them reinforced with concrete and rebar—worth at least a quarter of a billion dollars.

Technically, the material is owned by the Department of Defense, but what to do with the material and who is responsible has been an unresolved issue since the proclamation.

When the President made his “Day One” proclamation stopping construction on the wall, no provisions or instructions were made between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who managed the project, and contractors who held contracts.

Also, no plans were enacted to address the massive and expensive materials already delivered for the border wall construction.

Construction companies that lost their contracts are now trying to obtain authorization to sell the scrap.

Large portions of the materials are located in Cochise County, Arizona. Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Sgt. Tim Williams commented:

“They’re probably going to get a penny on the dollar for it.”

Another major issue with the valuable piles of junk and wasted items is the unfinished lighting, ground sensors, and cameras left behind, according to a report in The Epoch Times. Sgt. Williams explained:

“The big problem is that the fiber optics are in the ground already, and if they don’t turn it on in the next two months, the fiber optics will go dormant, and we won’t get them back.

“So, all those billions of dollars of fiber optics in the ground because there was only 24 months shelf life, they can be dormant and we’re at 22 months right now—we’re talking about losing billions of dollars because they didn’t turn the system on.”

As government agencies and construction companies try to resolve what will happen to the abandoned materials, a report by Senate Republicans issued in July 2021 states that the construction stoppage is costing taxpayers millions per day.

The report from GOP staff on the Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, prepared by Senator James Lankford (R) of Oklahoma, claims that the Biden administration is spending nearly $3 million a day paying subcontractors to guard border-wall materials and keep work sites safe.

Senators who produced the report estimated that the administration has spent between $618 million and $708 million to contractors between Jan. 20, 2021, and July 15, 2021, and will ultimately spend up to $1.2 billion more to exit the border wall projects, according to the news outlet.

The President halted construction of the border wall as part of a larger effort to sever his administration from Trump-era policies. The move backfired, however, in the year since.

Illegal border crossings have skyrocketed to record levels.

The Pew Research group found that the U.S. Border Patrol reported more than 1.6 million encounters with migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border in the 2021 fiscal year, more than quadruple the number of the prior fiscal year and the highest annual total on record.

Pew Research wrote:

“The number of encounters had fallen to just over 400,000 in fiscal 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak slowed migration across much of the world.

But encounters at the southwest border rebounded sharply in fiscal 2021 and ultimately eclipsed the previous annual high recorded in fiscal 2000, according to recently published data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the federal agency that encompasses the Border Patrol.

“Southwest border encounters increased to their highest recorded level in fiscal 2021. The Border Patrol reported 1,659,206 encounters with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border last fiscal year, narrowly exceeding the prior highs of 1,643,679 in 2000 and 1,615,844 in 1986.”

Republicans have attacked the President and his administration for their lenient handling of illegal immigration and lack of enforcement.

In August 2021, the Biden administration issued new guidance instructing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to refrain from detaining and deporting immigrants who were victims of crimes, barring extraordinary circumstances.

In February 2021, ICE agents were directed to focus on arresting recent border-crossers and those deemed to pose a national security or public safety threat, requiring officers to seek supervisory approval before detaining other immigrants.

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Democrats block bill that would force DHS to finish construction of border wall – which was already paid for

December 16, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democrats blocked an attempt by Republicans to consider the Finish the Wall Act on Tuesday, which would have required the Department of Homeland Security to resume construction of the southern border wall.

Construction of the border wall was a major policy of the Trump administration and became a hot political issue between Republicans and Democrats. When Joe Biden took over the White House earlier this year, he halted construction of the wall.

The Finish the Wall Act, or H.R. 2729, was introduced by Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) in April. A ranking member of the U.S. House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Rep. Higgins introduced the act which would require the Biden administration to resume construction of the border wall system.

Under President Trump’s administration, 458 miles of border wall system were completed with hundreds of additional miles fully funded but not yet constructed.

However, an executive order signed by Biden on Jan. 20, immediately halted all construction on the border wall system.

According to Higgins, the Finish the Wall Act would:

  • Resume border wall construction within 24 hours of enactment;
  • Prevent the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary from canceling construction contracts;
  • Require the DHS Secretary to spend all funds allocated to the border wall system since Fiscal Year 2017;
  • Direct the DHS Secretary to submit an implementation plan to Congress, including benchmarks for the deployment of physical barriers, technology, roads, and lighting.

The bill would also require that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities be compliant with the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005.

The act is one of five pillars of House Republicans’ plan to address the Biden border crisis. Record numbers of illegal immigrants have streamed into the U.S. since President Biden took office. The president has come under growing criticism for his lax handling of immigration.

The other pillars of House Republicans’ plan include reinstating the Remain in Mexico policy, maintaining Title 42 authority, requiring a negative COVID test before releasing migrants and sending a clear message not to come to the United States illegally.

In a statement, Rep. Higgins said:

“Through executive decree, President Biden halted work on the border wall system, created large security gaps, ended thousands of construction jobs, violated signed contracts, and left behind huge stockpiles of high-quality steel stacked on private land and unused.

“ Biden’s executive action to stop wall system construction, his reversal of deterrent-focused Trump policies, and his endless public statements in 2020 about open borders and easy illegal entry and transforming America into a sanctuary nation are directly responsible for the border crisis, which has indeed become a serious threat to our Republic.

The Biden administration cannot continue its policy of weakness. America demands effective border security. Completing the new wall system is critical to that mission, and House Republicans are offering real solutions.”

During Tuesday’s House session, Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) spoke in support of the bill:

“This bill requires the secretary of Homeland Security to resume construction of the border wall within 24 hours of enactment using funds Congress has already appropriated to building the wall. The wall is more than just a fence.

“It includes sensors and technology Border Patrol needs to effectively hold the line. The agents I spoke to at the border are doing everything they can to stop illegal crossings, but they are overwhelmed and under-equipped. Now drug smugglers, human traffickers, gangs, and terrorists are taking full advantage of this vulnerability.”

Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM) told her colleagues that money, supplies, and plans are in place to complete the wall, but there was a lack of leadership in the White House:

“We must protect our country, we must protect our people, we must finish the wall. This legislation would compel the White House and the Department of Homeland Security to do their jobs. The funding is there, the plans are there, the materials are there. All we lack is leadership from the Oval Office.”

 

The Finish the Wall Act reads:

“This bill requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to resume activities related to the construction of a barrier system along the U.S.-Mexico border and addresses other border-related issues.

“DHS must resume all such construction activities that were planned or underway prior to January 20, 2021. DHS must also expend all funds appropriated or explicitly obligated since October 1, 2016, for construction of this barrier system.

DHS may not cancel contracts for activities related to such construction entered into on or before January 20, 2021.

“Furthermore, within 14 days of this bill’s enactment, DHS must certify to Congress that U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities that process adults taken into custody at the border are fully compliant with certain laws related to the collection of DNA. (Among other things, these laws allow for the collection of DNA samples from non-U.S. persons detained under U.S. authority.)” 
 

 

 

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