Speed Reads

Trump's Wall

Trump's final border wall spree left a disjointed mess resembling 'conceptual art'

Work crews were demolishing mountainsides for former President Donald Trump's border wall up until President Biden was inaugurated, even though Biden had made it clear he would halt construction on the wall. This last-minute spree of lame-duck wall construction left "an array of new barrier segments along the border, some of them bizarre in appearance and of no apparent utility," several looking "more like conceptual art pieces than imposing barriers to entry," The New York Times reports. Most of these wall fragments are in Arizona, not Texas, where most migrants cross over from Mexico.

There are also "dynamited mountaintops where work crews put down their tools in January, leaving a heightened risk of rapid erosion and even dangerous landslides as the summer monsoon season approaches," the Times notes. And the rough access roads those crews carved to remote areas that rarely saw border activity "now serve as easy access points for smugglers and others seeking to enter the once-remote areas along the border."

Biden gave the Homeland Security Department 60 days to review the contracts Trump signed and figure out which can be canceled, which can't, and which should be renegotiated. Wall critics want Biden to tear down these isolated fragments of Trump's $15 billion signature project. Republican leaders are calling on Biden to fill in the blank sections.

Trying to up the pressure, 40 Senate Republicans are accusing Biden on Wednesday of unlawfully freezing border wall construction, focusing on the funds appropriated by Congress rather than those Trump unilaterally siphoned from DHS and Pentagon budgets, Politico reports. In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, the GOP senators claim Biden's wall pause infringed on "Congress' constitutional power of the purse" and "directly contributed to this unfortunate, yet entirely avoidable" migrant "crisis" on the southern border.

On the southern border, "property owners are still waiting to hear whether Biden's Justice Department will abort land condemnation cases initiated during border wall construction," and "people who live near the river want to know whether the federal government plans to restore flood levees damaged by unfinished border wall projects before hurricane season begins," The Washington Post reports. Otherwise, the border is the same it always is when a new administration takes over.