Rene Bronson, a spokesperson for the agency, said the Army Corps of Engineers, which provides direction and oversight for border projects, “will take appropriate measures in accordance with (the executive order),” adding that later contractors involved in the construction were told not to install any additional physical barriers.
“Only the construction activity necessary to prepare each site safely for suspension will happen over the next few days,” Bronson said.
Biden took an instant snapshot of one of his predecessor’s major legacies Wednesday evening when he signed a proclamation calling for the end of construction of the border wall.
“It is my administration’s policy not to divert American taxpayers’ money to build a border wall,” Biden said in a statement.
The majority of the roughly 455 miles constructed during Trump’s presidency have replaced the old, dilapidated roadblocks with a new improved wall system, a noticeable difference from the previously constructed fence in some areas. 49 miles have been traveled where there were no barriers before, according to the latest figures released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“The announcement (Wednesday) is likely to lead to the so-called suspension of work on the border wall,” said Travis Sharp, a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “While work is suspended, the contractor must keep track of any additional expenses caused by the delay, so that the government can pay these expenses later.”
A California federal judge has already directed the administration to provide an update on how the new Executive Order affects an ongoing border wall case.
Part of the obstacles facing the Biden administration relate to issues seeking to seize private land to build the wall. To this end, Ricky Garza, staff attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project, a legal advocacy group that represents landowners in land confiscation cases, described the announcement as “disappointing”.
“Biden pledged as a candidate not to build another foot and dismissed the lawsuits. That’s what a lot of us have been counting on,” Garza said. “There were no new lawsuits, but in the more than 200 cases that existed, there was the constant drumbeat that things were moving … as if nothing had changed.”
Cuellar expressed confidence in the announcement issued by Biden the White House on Wednesday.
“This executive order is very important because it ends the national emergency declaration that allowed Trump to withdraw money from other administrations,” Cuellar told CNN. “The president definitely fulfilled my expectations and I am very happy about that.”