Trump’s emergency declaration was set to expire in February, but before leaving office, he extended the declaration an additional year.
“Like every nation, the United States has a right and a duty to secure its borders and protect its people against threats,” reads the new executive order from Biden. “But building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution. It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security.”
“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,” stated Biden’s transition team before the inauguration.
Though reports project that the U.S. government could save a large portion of the $3.3 billion in funds directed towards the project, Mark Morgan, the acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner under the Trump administration, warned that the government would lose money due to fees from contractors and the waste of purchased materials.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the fees from contract cancellations could add up to $700 million.
“We can’t let the next administration even think about taking it down, if you can believe that,” said Trump. “I don’t think that will happen. I think when you see what it does and how it’s so important for our country, nobody’s going to be touching it…”
Though Biden intends to end any further construction of the border wall, he has not indicated that he will take any action with respect to what was built under Trump.
The Biden administration stated that the new president intends to have a wide-sweeping immigration bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, introduced in Congress.
If passed, the act would increase spending on border security technology and infrastructure at ports of entry to help curb narcotics smuggling.
But the larger implication of the immigration package proposed by Biden is that it would establish a means for immigrants who are currently illegally residing in the United States to apply for citizenship.
On Wednesday, Biden also reversed course on an executive order Trump signed at the start of his term that cut federal funding from “sanctuary cities” and broadened the priority of removal of illegal immigrants to include all immigrants who have “been convicted of any criminal offense” or “pose a risk to public safety or national security.”
“This revocation will allow the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to set civil immigration enforcement policies that best protect the American people and are in line with our values and priorities,” stated the transition team.