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Has the Biden Administration Resumed Building the Southern Border Wall?
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Has the Biden Administration Resumed Building the Southern Border Wall?

New construction is paused, though limited work for which funding has been authorized by Congress will be done.

A widely shared tweet from April 6 claims that President Joe Biden’s administration will “resume building the wall that Trump started.” The full tweet, which has been shared more than 6,000 times, reads as follows:

While it’s true that the Biden administration will fill in “gaps” due to some work that had been funded through “congressional authorization,” new construction on the wall is paused.  

On January 20, Biden issued a presidential proclamation ending Trump’s “declaration of a national emergency at our southern border in Proclamation 9844 of February 15, 2019,” saying that “Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Southern Border of the United States)” was “unwarranted.” In that proclamation, Biden insisted “no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall.” Biden also said: “I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall,” in his proclamation

On April 6, at a White House press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki clarified the matter and said that border “wall construction remains closed, to the extent allowed by law.” She explained, though, that “some [construction] has already been funded through a congressional authorization and funding allocation.” Further, she noted that “funds had been diverted from congressionally appropriated military construction projects and other appropriated purposes toward building the wall.” In sum, according to Psaki, while construction of the wall is paused, there is some limited work that will continue because funds had already been allocated for the project. 

Last week, the Washington Times reported that in a conversation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said that construction would resume along the border wall between the united States and Mexico to fill in “gaps” in the wall. 

According to a report reviewed by the Washington Times, Mayorkas said: “The president has communicated quite clearly his decision that the emergency that triggered the devotion of DOD funds to the construction of the border wall is ended. But that leaves room to make decisions as the administration, as part of the administration, in particular areas of the wall that need renovation, particular projects that need to be finished.’”

For context, it’s worth mentioning that when former president Donald Trump took office, much of the border between the U.S. and Mexico already had some sort of fencing barrier, according to the Brookings Institution. Former Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama had previously built many miles-worth of barriers along the southern border, noted the Brookings Institution. When Trump took office, there were 654 miles worth of fencing alreading in place. As of January 4, 2021, Trump completed 452 additional miles of the wall, with the majority of it replacing existing barriers, reported the BBC

According to a November 2020 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, when Trump issued Executive Order 13767, directing Homeland Security to construct a wall at the southwest border, these new barriers would add to the wall in some cases, but also replace the “654 miles of primary pedestrian and vehicular barriers constructed as of fiscal year 2015.” 

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Khaya Himmelman is a fact checker for The Dispatch. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and Barnard College.