After a day-one executive order demanding an end to any and all ongoing construction on his predecessor’s border wall, President Biden officially brought progress to a halt on Tuesday. According to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), whose district sits right on the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico, federal contractors working in conjunction with Customs and Border Protection were notified this week to stop installing the steel wall.
“I received notification that in accordance with President Biden’s executive order, all CBP contractors have now been formally notified by CBP Procurement to pause construction activities on CBP self-executed projects,” Cuellar said in a statement. “While CBP cannot speak on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), it is expected that DOD and USACE are undertaking parallel action on CBP-funded border wall projects that they are overseeing.”
In his executive order, signed only hours after he was sworn into office, Biden put an end to President Trump’s signature agenda item, protecting Americans from illegal immigration with the help of a physical wall. Contractors have already received contracts for an additional 290 miles of construction, but the Biden administration has not yet said how those contracts will be handled.
“The proclamation directs an immediate pause in wall construction projects to allow a close review of the legality of the funding and contracting methods used, and to determine the best way to redirect funds that were diverted by the prior Administration to fund wall construction,” the executive order stated.
President Trump fell short of his campaign promise to build a wall clear across the Mexican border, but he did manage to put up more than 450 miles of new and improved barrier. Much of the allotted construction is going not to put up a wall in places where none existed but rather to replace dilapidated fencing and insecure, flimsy barriers that were doing little to keep migrants at bay.
Regardless of whether one thinks that halting wall construction is a good idea, some experts believe that Biden may be exceeding his power by doing so. In an interview with the Washington Examiner, constitutional separation-of-powers expert Louis Fisher said that Biden needs to be careful.
“If he is halting the expenditure of DOD funds that Trump reprogrammed to build the wall, I think Biden is acting properly,” said Fisher. “If Biden is doing more then he might be acting improperly. Congress did appropriate some funds for the wall, although less than Trump requested. Withholding that money, I think, would be improper.”