Biden vowed in August that “there will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.” However, the already-funded projects could leave border security in good shape even if no more walls are built, according to Heritage Foundation’s Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies James Carafano.
“The administration was very smart in the way they did this,” said Carafano. “They really made sure that they covered the really important smuggling corridors. So, I think the dirty little secret is, they probably really built the wall they need, in both the capabilities that it has and also where it needs to be. It’s kind of an easy thing for Biden to say, ‘We’re not going to build any more wall,’ when, essentially, he has the wall he needs.”
Much of the completed wall has been in places that had significantly shorter barriers that were easy to cross.
Sixty percent of funded wall projects have been completed, as of Monday.
CBP is rushing to complete 450 miles worth of wall by Dec. 31, a timeline that government officials promised earlier this year they would meet. In an email, CBP told the Washington Examiner that the majority of contracts have been awarded and construction is “well under way.”
Migration Policy Institute Associate Policy Analyst Jessica Bolter said one of the easiest actions that the Biden White House can take on day one would be to issue a presidential proclamation that ends the emergency declaration that allowed the Trump administration to siphon Pentagon and Treasury funds for wall construction. In February 2019, President Trump declared a national emergency at the border, which gave him access to these funds. Out of the $15 billion in funding acquired for the wall, $10.5 billion was taken from non-wall projects. Bolter explained that this is where Biden will likely start with cutting off the project.
“Then there's a question of what would be done with the funds that have already been transferred, but not yet used,” Bolter said. “Ending the transfer of future funds doesn't mean in itself that wall construction stops. But Biden has also promised to end wall construction. If Biden wants to follow through with his promise not to build another foot of wall, his administration could terminate current contracts for wall construction, possibly even if they are in the middle of construction, which the government does have a lot of leeway to do.”
Biden would be the first president in decades not to build any new border barrier, a break from the past five administrations, Bolter added. Carafano warned that Biden’s refusal to put up barriers, even as Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama did, will not leave the U.S. utterly helpless but will be tested if a migration surge comes to unfold in 2021.