Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Construction championed by then-President Donald Trump continued on a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border on January 12, 2021 in Sasabe, Arizona. (Photo: Micah Garen/Getty Images)

Construction championed by then-President Donald Trump continued on a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border on January 12, 2021 in Sasabe, Arizona. (Photo: Micah Garen/Getty Images)

In 'Huge Step Toward Justice,' Biden Cancels Trump Border Wall Projects Using Diverted Funds

"Now they must commit to restoring protected public lands and sacred sites, and tearing down sections of wall."

Jessica Corbett

Advocacy groups and politicians on Friday welcomed the Pentagon's announcement that the Biden administration is canceling all barrier construction projects along the U.S.-Mexico border for which former President Donald Trump used emergency powers to divert billions of dollars in military funds.

"It's time for Biden to work with Congress to rescind funding for all border wall construction and help border communities, Indigenous tribes, and land managers begin healing what's been destroyed."
—Laiken Jordahl, Center for Biological Diversity

The move comes after President Joe Biden, the day he took office, delivered on his campaign promise to suspend work on his predecessor's infamous project; the president, in February, also terminated Trump's emergency declaration and halted the flow of funding toward wall construction.

Deputy Pentagon spokesperson Jamal Brown said in a statement Friday that "consistent with the president's proclamation, the Department of Defense is proceeding with canceling all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for other military missions and functions such as schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account."

"DOD has begun taking all necessary actions to cancel border barrier projects and to coordinate with interagency partners," Brown said. "Today's action reflects this administration's continued commitment to defending our nation and supporting our service members and their families."

Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, welcomed the announcement and urged the Biden administration to go even further.

"This long overdue reprieve is a huge step toward justice for people and wildlife in the borderlands. We're grateful that the Biden administration has stopped this senseless destruction," Jordahl said. "Now they must commit to restoring protected public lands and sacred sites, and tearing down sections of wall."

"It's time for Biden to work with Congress to rescind funding for all border wall construction and help border communities, Indigenous tribes, and land managers begin healing what's been destroyed," he added.

"Trump built 450 miles of new barriers during his term, much of it across the deserts and mountains of southern Arizona where his administration built along national forest land, wildlife preserves, and other federal property already under government control," according to the Washington Post—which noted that his administration "built far less in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, the busiest area for border crossings and the epicenter to a major migration influx."

As VICE reported in January, before Biden took office:

Several Indigenous nations who live along the U.S.-Mexico border have spoken out against wall construction and the resulting desecration of sacred sites, including graves. They also say the physical wall further separates them from their families and ancestral sites on opposite sides of the border.

"We know Border Patrol people are finding arrowheads and selling them to collectors," said Juan Mancias, tribal chair of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, or Esto'k Gna. "We had an ex-Border Patrol agent return things he had found while he was in the field."

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) on Friday accused Trump of "stealing money from the military for his border wall," adding that "this reversal is a victory for Texas and the rule of law."

Separately, the Department of Homeland Security announced Friday its "initial steps to protect border communities from physical dangers resulting from the previous administration's approach to border wall construction." According to a DHS statement, the Biden administration will use congressionally appropriated funds to:

  • Repair the Rio Grande Valley's Flood Barrier System: Construction under the prior administration blew large holes into the Rio Grande Valley's flood barrier system to make way for a border wall. The flood barrier system had long provided low-lying regions of Hidalgo County, Texas, protection from catastrophic flooding, and these breaches have threatened local communities. DHS will start work to quickly repair the flood barrier system to protect border communities. This work will not involve expanding the border barrier.
  • Remediate Dangerous Soil Erosion in San Diego: Improper compaction of soil and construction materials along a wall segment constructed by the prior administration is causing dangerous erosion along a 14-mile stretch in San Diego, California. DHS will begin necessary backfill projects to ensure the safety of nearby border communities. This work will not involve expanding the border barrier.

In a statement to the Post, Rep. Vicente González (D-Texas), whose district includes portions of the river levee, said that "it's imperative that these structures are fixed prior to the hurricane season."

The Hill reports that Rep. Raúl Girjalva (D-Ariz.), who represents a border district and chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, also celebrated the development.

"President Biden promised to not build one more foot of border wall under his watch, and I welcome this step by his administration to begin repairing the damage caused by border wall construction," said Girjalva.

"The border wall has done nothing but militarize border communities, destroy precious environmental habitats, and desecrate Native American sacred sites," he added. "After such abuses of power, canceling the contracts and repairing the environmental damage is the least we can do."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Patient Group Targets Pair of Democrats for 'Selling Us Out to Drug Companies'

"It makes me so angry that members of Congress are choosing Big Pharma over patients. It's unforgivable."

Jake Johnson ·


Judge Blocks Biden From Continuing 'Inhumane' Trump Policy to Deport Families

"This is not the end of the battle against this practice," said one rights group, "but it is a major step to ensure that the U.S. welcomes these asylum-seeking families—as we should."

Jessica Corbett ·


400+ Economists Press Congress to Permanently Expand Child Tax Credit

Such an expansion would "dramatically reduce childhood poverty in the United States," they said.

Andrea Germanos ·


Biden Admin. Sued for Letting Big Oil Harass 'Imperiled' Polar Bears

"We're hopeful the court will overturn this dangerous rule that puts polar bears in the crosshairs."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Cruel and Callous': Biden Slammed for Resuming Deportations to Battered Haiti

"Hours after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, President Joe Biden released a statement saying that the United States was a 'friend' of Haiti. A 'friend' does not continuously inflict pain on another friend," said Guerline Jozef of the Haitian Bridge Alliance.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo