The Department of Homeland Security will cancel a series of contracts with companies hired to build sections of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border during the Trump administration following a report that those contractors were being paid millions per day to sit idle.
The DHS announcement was highlighted by Fox News correspondent Bill Melugin, who has been tracking and reporting on the worsening migrant crisis along the border for months.
“NEW: DHS announces it is cancelling [sic] all remaining border wall contracts in the Laredo sector and all border barrier contracts in the Rio Grande Valley sector. In press release, Biden administration calls on Congress to instead fund ‘smarter’ border security measures,” Melugin noted on Twitter in a post containing a screengrab of the DHS announcement.
Press release: pic.twitter.com/fp4Y8YBrBt
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) October 8, 2021
“Consistent with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) border barrier plan, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), intends to cancel the remaining border barrier contracts located within U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) Laredo Sector and all border barrier contracts located in the Rio Grande Valley Sector,” the press release, issued Friday, states.
“CBP will then begin environmental planning and actions consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for previously planned border barrier system projects located within the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, and El Centro Sectors,” DHS said. “Environmental planning activities will cover projects funded with DHS’s Fiscal Year 2018-2021 barrier system appropriations where construction had not started. These activities include additional biological, cultural, and natural resource surveys for project areas where no data have been previously collected.
“CBP will also conduct comprehensive and targeted outreach with interested stakeholders, including impacted landowners, tribes, state and local elected officials, and federal agencies.”
The department was clear, however, that none of its activities “involve any construction of new border barrier or permanent land acquisition.”
“The Administration 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,” the department adding, noting that until Congress does so, DHS is compelled by law to spend funds “consistent with their appropriated purpose, and beginning environmental planning activities is part of the Department’s plan to do so.”
The cancellation of the contracts to fence builders comes on the heels of a claim by former U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, who told Fox News’ Bret Baier earlier this week the administration was paying them millions per day although physical wall construction ended after President Biden ordered it halted shortly after taking office.
Former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott: Biden was paying $5 million a day "to not build the border wall." pic.twitter.com/W3K2F4005j
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 5, 2021
“We’re supposed to do an in-depth study and then come up with a plan going forward,” Scott said after Biden put a moratorium on wall construction. “As Border Patrol did its part, everything, that was done within about two weeks, several briefings later, there really had not been any decisions made, it went well beyond the 60 days. Many of those projects today are just still on hold. So we’re paying contractors, for a while it was almost $5 million a day between DOD and DHS.”
“Wait, $5 million a day to not build the wall?” Baier interrupted.
“To not build the wall,” Scott reiterated.
“There are stacks and stacks of border wall panels, there are hundreds of miles of fiber optic cabling, there’s hundreds of cameras that were being installed with that, that are just sitting, there’s no action being taken,” Scott added.