(USA Features) The Department of Homeland Security opted to cancel the construction of 31 additional miles of border wall in Texas this week even as migrants by the hundreds of thousands are creating chaotic conditions for Border Patrol and immigration authorities, as well as state law enforcement agencies.
Construction had yet to begin on the two segments and the U.S. government had not het acquired new land that would have been needed in order to build them, the department said Friday.
When President Donald Trump left office in January there was about $2 billion remaining in a congressionally allocated wall money account, though most of it had been earmarked and placed under contract.
The decision on Friday is the first cancellation of those remaining projects and is likely to be challenged in court since Congress had specifically passed legislation funding wall construction in those sectors.
Biden administration officials said that the cancellation is linked to a broader review of the full $2 billion.
“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 announcing the cancellations.
All construction of new border wall had been paused under an executive order signed early on by President Joe Biden.
“The Government Accountability Office says the pause is legal, but eventually Mr. Biden must spend the money on border wall construction unless Congress rescinds the cash,” the Washington Times reported.
About 460 miles of new border wall was build during Trump’s term in office.
DHS had another 300 miles of wall construction under development or contract when Trump left.
Most of that has been put on ice as well after Biden rescinded Trump’s emergency declaration which allowed him to tap into non-earmarked Pentagon funds in order to begin wall construction in 2018 after several setbacks, court actions, and little help from a then-GOP-controlled Congress.
The cancellation of the wall segments comes as historic numbers of migrants stream illegally into the U.S., with the Biden administration processing them and releasing many into the country to await asylum or immigration court dates.
In the past, most illegal immigrants simply fail to show up for their hearings.
Republicans, including Trump, said new wall sections would help channel migrants to corridors more easily policed by Border Patrol and immigration agents so they could be caught.
The Washington Times reported this week that 270,000 migrants have managed to evade capture so far this fiscal year.