The Biden administration has canceled two border wall contracts along 31 miles of the Rio Grande in the Laredo sector of south Texas — continuing the process it began in the spring of dismantling one of the Trump administration’s signature initiatives.
The two contracts had previously been funded in 2020, but the Department of Homeland Security said they’re "not necessary to address any life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements," a news release stated Friday.
The Trump administration had planned to spend about $15 billion to build a wall along the Southwest border to crack down on crossings by undocumented immigrants.
The cancellations are the first since DHS released its plan for border wall funds in June.
"Construction has not yet started on the two Laredo sector projects, and no land acquisition has begun," Homeland Security stated. "CBP intends to engage in environmental planning concerning these barrier projects, including taking certain actions consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act and other statutes."
The department said it’s continuing to review the other border barrier projects paused by President Joe Biden and looking at what projects might be needed to address safety, environmental, or other remediation concerns.
"The administration also continues to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border," DHS said.
In September 2020, Customs and Border Protection, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, awarded Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. a $283.2 million contract and Southwest Valley Constructors Co. a $201.3 million contract, to work on the Laredo sector. Construction was set to start this September.
Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, whose hometown is Laredo, told Border Report "these contracts were a little easier to terminate because there was no work done, no digging."
"They decided to terminate the contracts, which I’m excited (about)," he told the outlet. "The wall is a 14th-century solution to 21st-century issues. We want to see border security but we want to see more men and women in green and blue to secure the border. We need more technology and I’m asking the administration to move faster on that technology."
The other two remaining contracts are for 41 additional border wall miles to be built in Laredo, and were negotiated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Those two contracts are still in effect, according to Border Report.
Altogether, the four border wall contracts totaled over $1.05 billion, Border Report stated.
Border wall management and immigration policy overall have been strong points of contention between Republicans and the Biden administration.
GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is is attempting to finish the border wall and several Republican-led states have announced plans to send their National Guard troops to the Southern border.
Also, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, led a group of Republicans in releasing a report last week about the administration's "waste of taxpayer resources" by cancelling border wall contracts.
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