October 19, 2021

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Biden admin cancels more of the previous admin’s border wall contracts

DEL RIO, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 23: A section of the southern border wall is shown on September 23, 2021 in Del Rio, Texas. Thousands of immigrants, mostly from Haiti, seeking asylum have crossed the Rio Grande into the United States. Families are living in makeshift tents under the international bridge while waiting to be processed into the system. U.S. immigration authorities have been deporting planeloads of migrants directly to Haiti while others have crossed the Rio Grande back into Mexico. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Biden admin cancels more of the previous admin’s border wall contracts

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The Biden administration in July had announced the cancelation of two contracts in the Laredo sector, which were to total 31 miles of barrier at a cost of over $500 million to U.S. taxpayers. The news came to the joy of local organizers like the #NoBorderWall Coalition, which called the fight against the federal government and its damned border wall “an epic David vs. Goliath Battle.”

“The contracts worth $564M—more than $18M per mile—would have destroyed the city landmarks of Las Palmas Nature Trail and Riverbend, parts of Laredo College, the downtown Tres Laredos Park, small businesses, private homes, family ranches, and many other iconic river sites,” #NoBorderWall Coalition tweeted at the time. Environmental activists had previously called the damage inflicted by the stupid wall “incalculable.”

In the release, DHS said the administration is to “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,” and “will also conduct comprehensive and targeted outreach with interested stakeholders, including impacted landowners, tribes, state and local elected officials, and federal agencies.”

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The administration in June also announced that it would be returning to the Pentagon more than $2 billion swindled by the previous administration for wall construction, and in that statement called on Congress to cancel remaining funds it had previously appropriated for barrier construction.

The administration doesn’t explicitly say it won’t build any new wall,” the Associated Press reported at the time. “But it says that any new construction will be subjected to environmental review and that it will review ongoing efforts to seize land from property owners by eminent domain and will return parcels to the owners if the Department of Homeland Security determines it’s not needed.” CNN reports that Pamela Rivas is among the Texas landowners who has won the return of property seized more than a decade ago. “A Texas judge ordered the return of her land last month,” the report said. 

“I don’t have words to describe my joy,” Rivas told CNN. “It was bittersweet at the beginning because my father wasn’t here to see the outcome. At the same time, I was just thrilled.”

Not only should landowners get their land back, but advocacy groups also say that the administration should remediate cultural and environmental harms by tearing down miles of barrier. Mother Nature is already doing some of that task: A viral photo shared by Madrean Archipelago Wildlife Center founder and wildlife preservationist Kate Scott in August showed portions of fencing along the Arizona-Mexico border in shambles following a recent monsoon. Walls don’t work, and rather than throwing more taxpayer funds at them, let’s instead build a humane asylum system, and actually respect it.

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