The Biden administration could continue building unfinished Trump-era walls as migrants continue bombarding the U.S.–Mexico border.
In an Executive Order on his first day in office, President Biden gave wall building contractors seven days to stop all construction on Jan. 20. He ended the National Emergency Declaration that allowed the Trump administration to divert money from the Pentagon to construct the border wall.
Biden gave the administration 60 days to come up with a proposal to reallocate funds set aside by Trump for the multibillion-dollar initiative.
But, according to Business Insider, when the deadline passed in March, administration officials said they were still working to “develop a proposal to send to the president soon.”
Press Secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged on Tuesday that the Biden administration is working on the border wall project launched by President Donald Trump in a small capacity.
Peter Doocy of Fox News on Tuesday posed the question to Psaki: “The DHS secretary is reportedly looking to finish some gaps in the southern border, how does that fit with President Biden’s day one executive order to stop border wall construction?”
In response, Psaki stuttered, saying that the building was partially “paused” as “agencies are developing a plan for the President on the management of the federal funds.”
“It is paused,” she said. “There is some limited construction that has been funded and allocated for, but it is otherwise paused.”
Those plans include filling “gaps” between sections of walls, installing “gates” and adding technology to parts of the wall that have not yet been installed with monitoring equipment.
“There is some limited construction that has been funded and allocated for, but it is otherwise paused,” she added.
Republicans have reacted angrily to Biden’s decision to suspend most border wall construction, seeing it as a threat to border security at a time when immigration is at its highest level in years.
Chad Wolf, the Department of Homeland Security acting secretary under Trump, said Wednesday that he believes the Biden administration is under “immense pressure” from law enforcement to refocus on the wall.
“The men and women from [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] and Border Patrol are pleading with DHS leadership and the White House to finish sections of that border wall system,” Wolf told Fox News. “They know how effective it is, and they know they need it to do their job.”
According to the Washington Post, one senior Customs and Border Patrol official involved in the discussions said, “We’re looking at project schedules, projected construction completion, and looking to prioritize parts of the wall to mitigate the possible risks posed by a stoppage.”
Officials said the Trump administration constructed approximately 450 miles of the border wall, and funding was available for another 350 miles.
Trump recently said he was considering visiting the border area, as both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have faced criticism for not being there since taking office.