Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed on Wednesday that construction of the wall at the southern border has been suspended — a week after President Biden signed an executive order halting President Donald Trump’s signature border security project.
“CBP, in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has suspended wall construction projects except for activities that are safety related,” CBP said in a statement. “All projects are in compliance with the President’s Proclamation.”
Biden signed the order on Inauguration Day last week ordering a “pause” by no later than seven days after it was signed, so there could be assessments of the legality of the funding, contracting methods, as well as the consequences of stopping the projects.
Trump had made construction of the wall his main 2016 campaign promise, and in 2020 promised to build 450 miles by the end of the year — something his administration accomplished.
But the wall was highly controversial. While many Republicans and officials at the border said it was a necessary part of a comprehensive border strategy, immigration activists and Democrats — including Biden — said it was ineffective and inhumane.
“Like every nation, the United States has a right and a duty to secure its borders and protect its people against threats. But building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution,” Biden said in his order. “It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security.”
Trump officials had warned against halting the wall, claiming it would not only damage the ability of the U.S. to protect its borders, but would also cost money and jobs in canceled contracts — although other estimates challenged that claim.
Then-acting CBP chief Mark Morgan told reporters earlier this month that, in addition to the 450 miles built, there was another 350 funded.
“It’ll cost taxpayers billions of dollars, billions of dollars in settlement fees,” he said. “We’re going to walk away from areas of the wall that have already been constructed.”
Democrats welcomed the development on Wednesday. Rep.Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, called it a “promising step in our work to halt construction of the ineffective and wasteful border wall and undo the damage that borderlands have experienced these past four years.”
“However, our work continues,” he said. “I remain steadfast in my commitment to working with the new administration until every border wall contract is terminated and all construction crews leave our border communities.”