I was ecstatic the day that President Biden and Vice President Harris took office. It was one of the most memorable times of the past year (pandemic notwithstanding). What excited me the most was the real possibility that President Biden would undo all of the shit-show that came from former President Trump’s administration — particularly the border wall.
The day he took office, President Biden signed an executive order to do exactly what he said he would do during his presidency. In a report by USA Today, reporter Jessica Hill noted, “In his proclamation, Biden wrote that the government would no longer divert taxpayer dollars to construct a border wall.” It astonishes me that former President Trump would rob Peter to pay Paul, essentially doing away with the plans for that money — all $1.4 billion dollars of it — which were earmarked for other projects, in order to keep immigrants from coming into the United States, plans which perpetuated hate and injustice. What a large price to pay to fuel hatred in our country!
So what President Biden did was to defund the ridiculous border wall, and by god, I am happy he did. As reported by The Hill, “Consistent with the President’s Proclamation terminating the redirection of funds for the border wall, no more money will be diverted from other purposes to building a border wall,” a Biden administration official said Friday. The administration went a step further, and in a statement from the Defense Department, told the AP: “Today, the Department of Defense will begin cancelling all wall projects using the diverted funds, and will take steps to return remaining unobligated military construction funds to their appropriated purpose as permitted by law.”
The funds were diverted from the national defense budget — money which was, according to a statement from the Pentagon, “[O]riginally 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.” The reason Trump used these funds was because Congress refused to allocate the amount of money required for his pet project, leading to a stalemate (and the longest government shutdown in history).
With the defunding of the border wall, $1.4 billion will be returned to the Pentagon, going directly back to our military and the uses for which it was intended. Within President Biden’s First 100 days he has reclaimed the money earmarked for projects within the military that had been in their plans for some time. In a recent report, the Associated Press shared, “Publicly, the Trump administration said it secured $15 billion for the wall. The Senate aide said it was actually $16.45 billion, $5.8 billion of which was appropriated by Congress and the rest diverted from the Defense and Treasury Departments.”
There is so much to undo from the terror that was the Trump Administration. I, for one, am ecstatic that President Biden is committed to reversing some of the damage that was done, both immediately and long term. Some of the $1.4 billion will go towards repairing the environment, and destruction from the construction of the border wall. In his plans, he will repair the flood barrier system in the Rio Grande, a critical move to protect the communities that rely on it.
“Construction under the prior administration blew large holes into the Rio Grande Valley’s flood barrier system to make way for a border wall,” said a statement from the Department of Homeland Security. “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.”
Biden’s plan will also rectify the issue of soil erosion within San Diego, another hazard put forth by the construction of the wall. “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,” said the DHS statement. Now that area must be backfilled in order to keep the erosion from becoming a bigger problem. The DHS also noted that there will be “additional measures” put forth by the current administration, though those haven’t been announced yet.
All this is vitally important, but maybe the biggest benefit is symbolic: by defunding the border wall, President Biden is making a huge statement against the divisiveness and hate that the Trump administration stood for. It is not only a practical move, but meaningful.
There is a long, long way to go in this process for the Biden Administration, but it will get done. Restoring the soul of this nation will not happen overnight, but defunding the construction of the wall means that we are closer than we were this time last year.