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Biden's order to stop border wall construction would save $2.6 bn: Report

President-elect Joe Biden would save about USD 2.6 billion of the US government if he halts the construction of the border wall, as per the US Army corps of Engineers

Joe Biden | us mexico border wall | Trump border wall


joe biden
Joe Biden

President-elect would save about USD 2.6 billion of the US government if he halts the construction of the border wall, as per the US Army corps of Engineers.

According to The Washington Post (The Post), Biden told reporters during the summer that he would not build "another foot" of the border barriers which the incumbent US President Donald Trump promised. The wall construction was one of the most expensive federal infrastructure projects in the country's history.

Corps spokeswoman Raini Brunson said that the US Army Corps commanders met with members of the Biden transition team last week to discuss the border wall project but however declined to comment on the (Army Corps) estimates reviewed by The Post.

"We cannot speculate on what the final cost estimates for undelivered work would be nor speculate about what actions a White House Administration may or may not take," Brunson said in a statement.

It was further reported that the Trump administration obtained about USD 15 billion for the project, enough to complete 738 miles (1187.7 km approx) of the "new fencing" as per US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and only one-third of USD 15 billion was provided by the US Congress through the standards appropriations process; Trump took the rest from the Department of Defense " counternarcotics programs and military construction accounts."

The Washington Post reported further that about USD 3.3 billion in unused funds will remain in the project's account when Biden takes office in January.

Even though the Biden-Harris administration would have the ability to terminate the contract with the construction firms building the wall, the companies would be able to build the US Government for "demobilisation" fees to cover the withdrawal of crews, equipment which is projected to add up to USD 700 million.

CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said that the President-elect's promise to not build the wall would be a waste of taxpayers' money.

"There has been a talk about the quote 'not building another foot of the wall.' I want to talk about the reality, not the political reality, but the substantive impact, of stopping construction," Morgan said as quoted by The Post and added, "Let's consider the cost directly to American taxpayers when we walk away, which will probably be billions of dollars that have already been invested and assigned to a contract."

"More costs to the taxpayer for nothing," Morgan said.

"His (Trump's) obsession with building a wall does nothing to address security challenges while costing taxpayers billions of dollars... Building a wall will do little to deter criminals and cartels seeking to exploit our border," the Biden plan read.

It added, "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, like investments in improving screening infrastructure at our ports of entry, that will actually keep America safer."

The Post reported that construction crews have been working "round-the-clock in multiple locations' to build the barriers as fast as possible before Biden takes office, anticipating that the project's days are numbered.

In 2016, Trump's campaign was based on building a wall saying that he would do so to stop illegal crossing to protect Americans from criminals. He said that he would make Mexico pay for the wall. But illegal immigration increased in Trump's four years.

Even though, more than 400 miles of new fencing construction completed, authorities say that made more than 70,000 detentions in October and November -- "the highest totals for those two months in more than a decade", The Post reported further.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Thu, December 17 2020. 12:22 IST