President Biden informed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday that he has terminated the national emergency on the southwest border declared by former President Trump on Feb. 15, 2019, in order to build a border wall.
Trump initially declared a national emergency two years ago to bypass a congressional standoff over funding the project and divert military construction funds to the wall. Days before Biden was sworn in, Trump extended the national emergency designation through Feb. 15, 2022.
“The ongoing border security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border of the United States continues to threaten our national security, including by exacerbating the effect of the pandemic caused by COVID-19,” Trump said in the Jan. 15 extension under the National Emergencies Act. “The executive branch has taken steps to address the crisis, but further action is needed to address the humanitarian crisis and to control unlawful migration and the flow of narcotics and criminals across the southern border of the United States.”
In an executive order just after taking office in January, Biden said that the national emergency would be “terminated and that the authorities invoked in that proclamation will no longer be used to construct a wall at the southern border.” As fas as funds already appropriated for wall construction, Biden directed “a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall.”
In the notification to Pelosi, Biden said he has “determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border was unwarranted.”
“I have also announced that it shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall, and that I am directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to that end,” he said.
Biden said that the authorities invoked in Trump’s Jan. 15 proclamation “will no longer be used to construct a wall at the southern border.”
Last week, Biden signed three executive orders to roll back immigration policies put in place by the previous administration and establish a task force charged with reuniting families still apart from the zero-tolerance border separation policy.
Before leaving office, Trump journeyed to Texas to declare he had built 450 miles of border wall. Only 47 of those miles are new, while the rest replaced existing barriers in need of repair or shorter pedestrian/vehicle barriers.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told senators during his confirmation hearing that DHS would study “the question of what we do with respect to the wall that has already been built.”
“The border is varied, depending on the geography, depending on the specific venue, and depending on the conduct of individuals around it,” Mayorkas said. “And we don’t need nor should we have a monolithic answer to that varied and diverse challenge.”