DHS Cancels Two Border Wall Contracts
These are the first cancellations under DHS's month-old plan for unobligated border wall funds.
The Homeland Security Department announced on Friday it cancelled two contracts for construction on the U.S.-Mexico border.
DHS’s Customs and Border Protection is terminating the contracts for the Laredo, Texas, sector of the border––spanning 31 miles and using fiscal 2020 appropriated funds––because they “are not necessary to address any life, safety, environmental or other remediation requirements, as described in the DHS border wall plan implementing President Biden’s proclamation,” said the department in a press release. Biden ordered a pause on border wall work upon coming into office and his administration announced in April it was cancelling border wall contracts from the Trump era. These are the first cancellations since DHS released its plan for unobligated border wall funds in June.
“Construction has not yet started on the two Laredo sector projects, and no land acquisition has begun,” Homeland Security stated. “CBP intends to engage in environmental planning concerning these barrier projects, including taking certain actions consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act and other statutes.”
The department is continuing to review the other border barrier projects paused by Biden and looking at what projects might be needed to address safety, environmental or other remediation concerns.
“The administration also continues to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border,” DHS said.
In September 2020, CBP, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, awarded Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. a $283.2 million contract and Southwest Valley Constructors Co. a $201.3 million contract, to work on the Laredo sector. Construction was slated to begin in September 2021.
Government Executive reached out to DHS to confirm the names of the companies and total cost for the cancelled contracts as well as ask if we can expect to see other cancellations soon. The department did not immediately respond for comment.
“This announcement is a promising step in our work to halt the remaining construction of the ineffective and wasteful border wall and undo the damage that borderlands have experienced since 2016,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, whose district includes Laredo, in a statement. “However, our work continues. I remain steadfast in my commitment to working with the Biden administration until every border wall contract is terminated and all construction crews leave our border communities.”
Border wall management and immigration policy overall have been strong points of contention between Republicans and the Biden administration.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, is attempting to finish the border wall and several Republican-led states have announced plans to send their National Guard troops to the Southern border.
Also, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, led a group of Republicans in releasing a report on Wednesday about the administration's “waste of taxpayer resources” by cancelling border wall contracts.