Report: Biden’s pause on U.S. border wall construction is costing taxpayers millions of dollars each day – here’s why

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WASHINGTON, DC — In another twist to President Joe Biden’s border crisis, a report has come out that alleges the president’s 60-day pause on border wall construction has cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars each day.

In an exclusive report, Breitbart wrote an unnamed senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official informed the news outlet that Biden’s halting of the construction of the border wall racked up fees of $6 million each day as the work sites became idle the last two months.

Senior officials within DHS reported being instructed not to speak to national media on various issues the agency is facing at the border. Still, some information about the immigration crisis on the border has been leaked from the leadership team within DHS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

On Jan. 20, Biden had signed a proclamation temporarily halting any further progress on the border wall so individual contracts could supposedly be evaluated.

There is confusion as to when the pause officially ends. Some news outlets reported March 20 and others have mentioned March 27.

According to Texas Public Radio, the 60-day pause took effect on Jan. 27 and is scheduled to end around March 27.

However, Biden’s proclamation was signed Jan. 20 and stipulated that the review should be completed within 60 days, which was this past weekend.

NBC News reported the White House missed its own 60-day deadline for reviewing construction at the border wall.

It is not clear why the Biden administration could not evaluate contracts while work was simultaneously being done to secure the border. The 60-day time frame was to be used for evaluating each contract to reach a decision to terminate-for-cause or continue.

With the exception of “make-safe” activities at the worksites, construction projects immediately came to a standstill, Breitbart Texas reported.

According to Breitbart’s source, the $6 million daily expenditures are required for materials orders placed before the pause and expenses for the cost of equipment sitting idle. When the issuance of a stop work order causes a contractor to idle equipment, they are entitled to be compensated for rental expenses or costs of ownership, according to the report.

When the 60-day pause ends, it does not mean that an automatic restart of construction will resume.

Early in the pause, a spokesperson for the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) informed Breitbart Texas that contractors would be informed of a final decision at some point after the 60-day pause concluded.

The Biden administration has not indicated what its plan is regarding the end of the pause.

Other agencies within Biden’s administration have been tight-lipped about information.

Breitbart reported that USACE did not respond to a request for information concerning the end of the pause and the border wall contracts currently being evaluated.

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In the meantime, equipment will continue sitting idle until a decision is made.

For example, in Eagle Pass, Texas, a fence contract worth $51.9 million hangs in the balance, Breitbart reported. The equipment continues to gather dust as the contractor waits for a decision from Biden’s administration.

Other problems along the border may be taking precedent over the status of evaluating border wall contracts.

Recently, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas admitted in a March 16 statement:

“We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”

In the same statement, Secretary Mayorkas mentions specific actions his department has undertaken during the last two months to address issues at the border.

It is noteworthy that Mayorkas’ statement did not acknowledge Biden’s 60-day pause nor its impact at the U.S. border and beyond.

Instead, Mayorkas focused on touting items that have recently come under scrutiny and criticism by the public, politicians and media. For example, in his statement, Mayorkas suggested that migrants are being tested and quarantined:

“In less than two months, Customs and Border Protection stood-up an additional facility in Donna, Texas to process unaccompanied children and families. We deployed additional personnel to provide oversight, care, and transportation assistance for unaccompanied minors pending transfer to HHS custody.

“We are standing up additional facilities in Texas and Arizona to shelter unaccompanied children and families. We are working with Mexico to increase its capacity to receive expelled families.

“We partnered with community-based organizations to test and quarantine families that Mexico has not had the capacity to receive. We have developed a framework for partnering with local mayors and public health officials to pay for 100% of the expense for testing, isolation, and quarantine for migrants.

“ICE has also developed additional facilities to provide testing, local transportation, immigration document assistance, orientation, travel coordination in the interior, and mechanisms to support oversight of the migrant families who are not expelled.”

However, the next day Mayorkas was forced to admit during a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee that the federal government had released migrants without testing them for COVID-19 and that in Brownsville, Texas, earlier this month, migrants who tested positive for coronavirus were released and merely urged to quarantine.

National Review reported that the city of Brownsville held COVID-19 testing at the bus station with test kits provided by the state and that a local NBC affiliate reported that out of 1,700 migrants tested at the Brownsville Bus Station, more than 100 tested positive.

KABC reported that Mayorkas testified:

“There were times earlier when individuals were apprehended, and we sought to expel them, and we were unable to expel them, and we were compelled to release them, and we did not have the opportunity to test them.”

In Mayorkas’ March 16 statement, he also mentioned the opening of additional facilities to handle the growing influx of illegal migrants and thousands of unaccompanied children; vaccinating its workforce; directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist the Department of Health and Human Services; building a phone registry for immigrants so they can apply from Mexico and be transported into the U.S.; and restarting and expanding the Central American Minors program to create a legal pathway for children to enter the U.S.

During the March 17 hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) asked Mayorkas:

“Are you going to be asking the president to finish the wall, and the wall that has already been appropriated by Congress?”

Mayorkas replied:

“No, I will not.”

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