“Not Necessary”: The Biden Administration Just Canceled More Border Wall Contracts

It’s the latest move to dismantle Trump’s pet project.

Border wall construction ongoing on farmland in Texas last year.Eric Gay/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

On Friday, the Biden administration canceled two border wall contracts along 31 miles of the Rio Grande in South Texas—continuing the process it began this spring of dismantling one of the Trump administration’s signature initiatives.

The two contracts had previously been funded in 2020, but Biden’s Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that they are “not necessary to address any life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements.” 

The Trump administration had planned to spend about $15 billion to construct a border wall along the Southwest border of the US in an effort to crack down on crossings by undocumented immigrants, whom they deemed a threat to American security. Immigration and environmental activists alike blasted the wall plan—the former for imperiling immigrants fleeing dangerous or difficult circumstances, and the latter because wall construction threatened to disrupt natural habitats and endanger more than 100 threatened animal species who roam at the border. Nor do some portions of the wall constructed under Trump appear to do much to prevent border crossings, as they are easily scaled with a ladder.   

The contracts canceled on Friday were the first to be terminated under a plan announced by the Department of Homeland Security in June to divert the billions of dollars allocated for the border wall to other priorities. The Department is legally required to use the funds—which were already appropriated by Congress—for projects on the border. So DHS announced last month that the money would be used to address environmental damage at the border, including soil erosion in Southern California and structural concerns on levees meant to prevent flooding near the Rio Grande.

On his first day in office in January, Biden paused construction of the wall and announced a review of all the funds that had been appropriated for construction, calling the project “a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security.”

About $10 billion of the funds for Trump’s border wall had been set to come from the Department of Defense, diverted from military projects. The Biden administration terminated the remainder of these contracts in April. DHS said in its Friday announcement that it would continue to review the paused border projects that had been set to come from Homeland Security funds. It also urged the administration “to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures.”

WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

payment methods

WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate