The Biden administration on Friday announced that it will use any remaining money designated for the wall at the southern border to address what it described as safety and environmental issues near construction, as it described the project as an example of the Trump administration’s “misplaced priorities.”
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detailed a plan that includes an already announced return of funding back to the Pentagon, and includes steps to end further expansion and address “life, safety and environmental concerns.”
“Wall construction along the Southern border in recent years is just one example of the prior Administration’s misplaced priorities and failure to manage migration in a safe, orderly, and humane way,” the White House said in a fact sheet on the plans.
The Trump administration built more than 450 miles of border wall, much of it repairing existing structures with a system that included steel bollards, cameras, lights and roads for easier access. Critics described the wall as cruel and a sign of xenophobia, but Trump officials described it as a vital part of border security that helped lower illegal immigration.
President Biden campaigned on ending the wall construction and promised that “not another foot” of wall would be built during his administration — despite warnings that ending wall sections already in pre-construction could cost money and resources.
In a press release, the Department of Homeland Security highlighted efforts to close breaches in the Rio Grande Valley that were cleared for the border wall, but that the agency said could lead to serious flooding, as well as efforts to fix soil erosion in San Diego.
DHS said it would also engage in a review that “includes detailed environmental impact analysis and remediation and robust and substantive engagement with relevant stakeholders, including border community residents, their elected representatives, tribal communities, and environmental and other interested non-governmental organizations and advocates.”
The administration is also calling on Congress to redirect funds tagged for the border wall to what it described as “modern, effective border measures” instead.
“This Administration is focused on strategies that facilitate fair and orderly migration at the border and keep border communities safe,” the White House said. “This includes addressing the root causes of migration, driving 21st century technological solutions for border management, and giving people options to apply for asylum and other legal pathways in their home country.”
The announcement comes as the Biden administration is still struggling to deal with a massive surge in migration at the border, with more than 180,000 migrant encounters in May alone.
Fox News has previously reported how migrants have used gaps in unfinished parts of wall construction to sneak through into the U.S. as overwhelmed agents deal with migrants elsewhere.