Trump’s Border Wall Builders Carry On Even Though Projects May Never Be Completed

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In the Guadalupe Canyon, in southeastern Arizona, work crews are dynamiting mountainsides and bulldozing access roads in this stunning landscape to make way for the border wall.

John Kurc


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John Kurc

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A portion of the border wall is under construction in Guadalupe Canyon, Arizona, which is a wildlife corridor for Mexican gray wolves and endangered jaguars.

John Kurc


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John Kurc

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Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary is sworn in during his Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C.

Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images


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Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary is sworn in during his Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C.

Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images

Immigration hawks want President Biden to keep building Trump’s border wall. They want Biden to do what President Obama did in 2009 when he allowed border fence construction contracts signed under President George W. Bush to be completed.

Bush and Obama together installed 654 miles of barriers. Obama wanted to show he was serious about border security so that a divided Congress would pass comprehensive immigration reform, which it didn’t.

«It should not be a, ‘Hey, I made a political commitment and therefore on January 20th at 12:01 I’m shutting this down.’ I would have to say that’s irresponsible,» says David Aguilar, national chief of the Border Patrol who oversaw completion of the border fence under Obama.

«What needs to happen,» Aguilar continues, «is take a step back, take a look at what is in place and what the appropriate path forward should be.»

Early termination of contracts can be costly, says Scott Amey, general counsel of the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group in Washington D.C.

Setting aside the overwhelming opposition to the wall in U.S. border communities, Amey said: «It may be easier, especially if the money has already been appropriated, to finish and complete those sections of wall to ensure we have a decent barrier down there.»

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) is among the members of Congress who represent districts along the U.S.-Mexico border, all of whom are dead-set against the wall. He says Biden’s new CBP chief can simply call for a «termination for convenience,» which is the right of a government agency to sever a contract, though it will likely include a termination penalty fee.

Cuellar says this is what he expects of the new administration: «One, tell the Department of Justice to stop all the condemnation lawsuits. And the second thing is send instructions to the Army Corps of Engineers to tell all those contractors to stop construction of the wall. They will have to pack up and leave.»

In Texas, where most of the borderlands are in private hands, the progress of the wall has been slowed by the tedious condemnation process that winds through federal court. The government has signed four contracts to build 121 miles of wall in the Laredo region, for instance, but they haven’t acquired a single acre of land to erect it on.

Many landowners have fought the government in court, hoping to run out the clock on Trump’s time in office. The delay tactics appear to have worked.

«Our coalition feels confident that the wall is dead and that nothing more will happen between now and the inauguration,» says Tricia Cortez, co-founder of the local No Border Wall Coalition.

Added Ricardo De Anda, a local lawyer representing property owners: «Landowners have been involved in hand-to-hand fighting against the government lawyers for over a year now, denying them access to their property. There’s no way CBP can get a bulldozer down on the river between now and the swearing-in.»

That comes as a huge relief to Sacred Heart Children’s Home, a Catholic orphanage in Laredo situated on the Rio Grande. The tall steel panels, along with a 100-foot-wide enforcement zone, would have plowed right through the campus, which is run by an order of nuns.

«I’m very happy for that,» said Tomás Rodriguez, Jr., secretary of the Sacred Heart board of directors. «The wall, it seems, will not be built, and that will help our cause because we would not lose any property, and we would be able to help young boys and young girls.»

That is, if Joe Biden follows through on his promise to stop Donald Trump’s wall and abandon the unfinished project in the borderlands.

  • US-Mexico border
  • border wall
  • Immigration

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