SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The Department of Defense announced Friday it was canceling all contracts for the border wall between Mexico and the United States which use funds originally intended for military missions and would repair damage caused by wall construction, including soil erosion in San Diego.
Former President Donald Trump had used military funds to help build some 455 miles of border wall -- one of his administration's top priorities -- including 49 miles which previously had no fence or wall. President Joe Biden stopped all construction on border wall projects his first day in office.
In all, about $6 billion dollars of Pentagon funds had been diverted to help pay for the border wall construction under the Trump administration. It's unclear how much of those funds have not yet been spent.
"The Department of Defense is proceeding with canceling all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for other military missions and functions such as schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account," Jamal Brown, deputy Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
"It's a symbol of hate and President Biden is knocking this symbol of hate down," said immigration rights activist Enrique Morones, founder and executive director of the San Diego-based non-profit Gente Unida.
He applauds this move by the Department of Defense.
"Diverting funds from the military and taking money from other areas to build a wall that does not keep people out, it kills people, it is a message of hate, is the wrong message," Morones added.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher also applauded the Biden administration's move.
"The cancellation of funding for the Trump border wall is another important step President Biden is taking to erase the divisive and inhumane immigration policies of the Trump Administration," he said. "This is good news for San Diego County and other border communities that respect and appreciate immigrants."
Not all lawmakers agree, however. Idaho Senator Jim Risch, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted on Friday, "this is an ill-advised decision at best."
According to the DoD, with this cancellation, unobligated military construction funds diverted from military construction projects will be used for previously deferred military construction projects. The department is reviewing the deferred project list to determine funding prioritization.
The Department of Homeland security said it would fix "improper compaction of soil and construction materials" along 14 miles of border in San Diego County and address additional damage from wall construction in the near future.
Additional damage throughout the Rio Grande Valley in Texas has raised concerns from residents about flooding.
After Biden stopped construction, the government still had more than $4.7 billion in contracts for border wall construction to be paid. It had spent $6.1 billion, but much of the wall remains unfinished.
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