A senior CBP official involved in the conversation said, “We are looking at project deadlines, construction completion and wall blocks to reduce potential hazards.”
In many locations along the border, crews have been working nearly all day to erect 30-foot steel bollard fences as possible before Trump’s office and paycheck are closed. Army Corps spokesman Renee Brunson said companies would be entitled to compensation from the Biden administration for “demobilization” the cost of withdrawing employees and equipment, but the contracts have a termination clause that allows the government to break deals. Which oversees private companies that build barriers.
“The termination clause allows the government to exercise its right to terminate the contract for its convenience,” Brunson said. “If the facility is terminated, the contractor is entitled to submit a request for termination settlement costs.”
Those contracts have not been made public, and Biden’s transition officials may not learn for many more weeks what those demobilization costs could be. It is also unknown whether the government will be able to modify contracts to prevent new construction for the installation of sensors, lighting and other surveillance technology that the Biden administration favors – with wall clauses that are already in place .
The Trump administration has completed 415 miles, according to the latest CBP figures, and the agency says crews are on track to complete 450 miles by the end of the year. Brunson said that the Army Corps does not have an estimate of how much more could happen between the end of the year and opening day.
It is also unclear what the Biden administration would do with the disused Department of Defense funding that Trump set aside from military construction and countercorotics programs to pay for the wall. Trump has received nearly $ 15 billion for barrier construction, enough to cover 738 miles, making it one of the most expensive federal infrastructure projects in American history.
A third of the money was provided by Congress, and the rest came from the Pentagon. Despite Trump’s campaign promises, Mexico has not paid for any walls.
Trump’s project has added a few miles of new fencing where none previously existed. The effort has largely involved small, outdated vehicle barriers with steel bars to block people.
The Biden campaign declined to answer questions about the new administration’s immediate plans for Trump’s wall, citing inquiries on the presidential election website. The announcement of the 2019 National Emergency is ending, amid changes noted for Biden’s first 100 days, which provided Trump with the mechanism to divert military funds for wall construction.
“Building a wall will do little to deter criminals and cartels to exploit our borders,” the website reads. “Instead of stealing resources from schools for military children and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, Biden will direct federal resources to smart border enforcement efforts, such as investments in screening infrastructure improvements at our ports of entry, which actually I will protect America. “
Biden was more outspoken during an interview this summer when he told NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro that “there won’t be another wall built in my administration.”
Jessica Bolter, an analyst at the Nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute in Washington, said that ending Trump’s emergency declaration would be “one of the easiest tasks for President Biden.” But a ban on all wall building activity would be unusual, she said.
“A future Biden administration will still need to devote some funds to obstructive maintenance, but if it doesn’t actually build another leg of the wall, it will be a pause from the previous five administrations,” Bolter. he said. “New border walls and barriers have been built under every boundary since at least President George HW Bush.”
CBP officials said areas that are likely to be inhabited with gaps and incomplete blocks are suddenly located in challenging, mountainous areas.
For example, crews are detonating in the mountains of a rugged, roadless area in southeastern Arizona called Guadalupe Canyon, where the barrier costs $ 41.1 million per mile. That period is not scheduled to be completed until June 2021, meaning it will likely end as a gouged-out mark on the terrain – with no blockage rising from the ground.
“The heartbreaking thing is that we are seeing them explode in these areas that will never end,” said Lichen Jordahl, who has opposed the project for a Tucson-based center for biological diversity. “These contractors are destroying the habitat of the endangered Jaguar to clear a path to a wall that will never be built. This is just absurd. “
Zardahl said environmental groups would try to resettle the fragile areas damaged by the destruction, “but you can never unite a mountain and crumble forests together again.”
During Trump’s tenure the barrier has been constructed along divergent tracks, with most of the new fencing added to states where the land was already under federal control. In places like San Diego; Yuma, Eris ;; And the El Paso area, new obstacles are mostly completed.
But with the winding 1,200-mile course of the Rio Grande accounting for about two-thirds of the international border between the United States and Mexico, the Trump administration has built relatively little, making those areas in Texas its top priority. Despite being identified in. .
The land required for the riverbank project is in almost all private hands, and the Trump administration has spent the past several years in court through a condemnation process that would allow the government to seize it. The government has received about 40 percent of the land sought for the project, but the crew has completed six miles of new obstacles in the lower Rio Grande Valley.
CBP and Army Corps officials said they do not know what will happen to the private land the government has taken, or if there are no barriers, the federal agency can take it into their possession. If the government has acquired the land, but has not paid for it, the Biden administration may renounce its claims and give full possession to the previous owner.
CB Grande officials are aiming to complete an additional 30 or so miles in the Rio Grande Valley by January 20, but the project would leave it far short of Trump’s goals. The agency said in a statement that it would continue to build with the money received.
The statement said, “Since the US Border Patrol began building border barriers nearly 30 years ago, these barriers have proved to be an important component for achieving operational control of the border and greater manpower efficiency.”
Ronald Vitiello, a former US border patrol chief who was closely involved in the planning of the wall, said halting construction and leaving gaps in the barrier is likely to funnel illegal activity to places where crossers Will try to sneak through and find out the theft.
“There is always going to be a weak link that will be easier to cross than anywhere else,” Vitilio said. “There will not be planned upgrades in those areas, and they will be subject to exploitation by smugglers.”