Joe Biden’s administration will return to the U.S. military more than $2 billion that had been allocated for Donald Trump’s border wall, the president’s latest move to roll back one of his predecessor’s signature immigration priorities.
The decision will make the unspent funds available to 66 previously deferred projects in 11 states, three territories and 16 countries, the White House budget office announced Friday.
Planned allocations include: $10 million to expand missile defenses in Alaska; a $79 million upgrade of a school for U.S. military children in Germany; and more than $25 million to improve fire and rescue stations at Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base.
The White House renewed its call on Congress to cancel other funds appropriated to build the wall, saying in a statement that the money should “instead be used for modern, effective border management measures to improve safety and security.” The Department of Homeland Security will spend some remaining funds appropriated by Congress on site clean-up.
Trump touted the wall as one of his top achievements as president, saying it was necessary to stop illegal immigration and smuggling. The former president allotted $15 billion to build the barrier, most of it coming out of the military budget.
Republicans have blamed Biden’s more welcoming immigration policies for a historic influx of migrants at the U.S. southern border, a charge the president has rejected, and urged him to finish building the wall. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported more than 180,000 migrant encounters at the border in May, up 1% from April.
Biden as a candidate promised to stop construction of the wall and on his first day in office, he signed an executive order pausing work on the project. “Building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution,” the order says.
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