Biden administration cancels border wall contracts covering a 31-mile section in Texas

In a photo taken on March 28, 2021, ranch owner Tony Sandoval (67) stands before a portion of the unfinished border wall that former US president Donald Trump tried to build, near the southern Texas border city of Roma
In a photo taken on March 28, 2021, ranch owner Tony Sandoval stands before a portion of the unfinished border wall that former US president Donald Trump tried to build, near the southern Texas border city of Roma.

  • The Biden DHS is canceling two border wall contracts in the Laredo sector of the US-Mexico border.
  • After taking office in January, President Biden paused ongoing border wall construction.
  • Biden’s 2022 budget proposal allocates $1.2 billion for border infrastructure, sans wall funding.
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The Biden administration is canceling two border wall contracts in the Laredo sector of the US-Mexico border that span roughly 31 miles, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Friday.

Shortly after taking office in January, President Joe Biden paused border wall construction projects that were initiated by former President Donald Trump, calling for “a review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct” the barrier.

Friday’s announcement comes after the Biden administration last month returned to the military more than $2 billion in funding that the Trump administration had diverted for border wall construction.

The Biden administration’s handling of Trump’s border wall projects has unfolded at a slower pace due to funds having been allocated through different government agencies.

The contracts for the Laredo projects planned for 31 miles of border wall to be built along the Rio Grande, funded with DHS Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations.

However, construction on the projects had not yet started, nor had land acquisition been executed.

Read more: Trouble is brewing for a Georgia county’s criminal investigation into Donald Trump

“DHS continues to review all other paused border barrier projects and is in the process of determining which projects may be necessary to address life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements and where to conduct environmental planning,” the DHS release said. “The Administration also continues to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border.”

The Trump administration constructed roughly 450 miles of wall over four years, according to The Associated Press. However, only 52 miles of wall were built in areas where no barrier had previously existed.

The border between the US and Mexico stretches across more than 1,900 miles; some sections already had barriers prior to Trump taking office in 2017.

DHS is utilizing previously-appropriated funds to assess environmental issues that derived from previous wall construction, as well as reviewing land seizure cases to determine if those acquisitions are still necessary.

Biden’s 2022 budget proposal allocates $1.2 billion for border infrastructure, including security technology, but does not set aside funding for additional wall construction.

GOP Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas last month pledged to continue building a wall at the border, though the legality of the move is being called into question.

“Only Congress and the president can fix our broken border,” Abbott said at the time. “But in the meantime, Texas is going to do everything possible, including beginning to make arrests, to keep our community safe.”

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Arkansas governor says that fellow GOP Gov. Kristi Noem set ‘a bad precedent’ in using private funds to send National Guard to US-Mexico border

Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

  • Gov. Hutchinson said that sending troops to the border using private funds sets “a bad precedent.”
  • “This is a state function,” he told host Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
  • Gov. Noem received a donation to be used to aid in efforts at the US-Mexico border.
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GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas on Sunday said that deploying a state’s National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border using private funds sets “a bad precedent.”

During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” anchor Dana Bash asked Hutchinson about fellow Republican Gov. Kristi Noem’s decision to use a donation from Tennessee billionaire Willis Johnson to send 50 South Dakota National Guard members to the border.

Last week, Hutchinson announced hat he would deploy National Guard troops from Arkansas to the border, the latest salvo in a national GOP-push to highlight the surge in attempted migrant border crossings in recent months.

However, Hutchinson is not using private funding and chided Noem for doing so.

“Would you use a political donation to send your troops to the border?” Bash asked.

“Not for this purpose,” Hutchinson replied. “This is a state function. It is something that we respond to other states in terms of disaster.”

He added: “I would consider it a bad precedent to have it privately funded. Now, whenever you are looking at supplemental pay for some state employees, we use private foundation money, so it is not an across-the-board rule against that.”

Read more: Capitol Hill staffers describe the second jobs and side gigs they have to take to survive on low pay, from delivering takeout to bartending

Johnson directed the funding to South Dakota through his family’s foundation and told The New York Times last week that he wanted to aid security efforts at the border.

“You’ve got illegals coming in and I just think they ought to follow the rules of America,” he told the newspaper. “South Dakota is a small state. They want to help America, I want to help them.”

Noem, a former congresswoman who is seen as a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate, said that the $1 million donation from Johnson came as “a surprise.”

In sending the troops to the border, the governor continues to raise her national profile among conservative voters.

“The border is a national security crisis that requires the kind of sustained response only the National Guard can provide,” she said last week. “We should not be making our own communities less safe by sending our police or Highway Patrol to fix a long-term problem President [Joe] Biden’s Administration seems unable or unwilling to solve.”

Last month, GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, another possible 2024 presidential aspirant, deployed state law enforcement officers to the border.

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Over 50 House Republicans call on Biden to replace Harris in leading immigration efforts at US-Mexico border

Biden Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Joe Biden speaks about distribution of COVID-19 vaccines at the White House on May 17, 2021.

  • Over 50 Republicans have called on Biden to replace Vice President Harris in immigration efforts at the border.
  • “Harris has not yet shown adequate interest in observing this crisis first-hand,” the group said.
  • The administration has emphasized that Harris is not a “czar” in charge of managing the border.
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More than 50 House Republicans have called on President Joe Biden to remove Vice President Kamala Harris from leading the effort to address the root causes of the surge in migrants at the US-Mexico border, accusing her of “inaction.”

In a letter to Biden, 56 Republicans, led by GOP Rep. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, have expressed “serious concerns” about Harris’s role in handling what they deem a “crisis” at the southern border.

The group cited recent figures released by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which revealed 180,034 migrant encounters at the southern border last month.

“Despite being in the midst of a border crisis this country has not seen in two decades, Vice President Harris has not yet shown adequate interest in observing this crisis first-hand,” the letter said.

They added: “In the 85 days since the Vice President has been tasked with solving this crisis, she has yet to visit the border and meet with Border Patrol agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, and local law enforcement officials.”

In March, Biden tapped Harris to work with Central American nations to address the root causes of the surge in migrants seeking to come to the US.

Addressing Biden, the members of Congress found fault in the president’s selection of Harris.

“At the time of her appointment, you stated, ‘I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this.’ We disagree,” the letter said.

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a frequent critic of the administration, on Tuesday blasted Harris for not visiting the border since taking office in January.

“Vice President Harris, who was in charge of the border, seems determined to go anywhere she can but the border,” he said.

Read more: How Biden’s chances of receiving Communion are in jeopardy because of his abortion stance

Harris and her staff have stressed that their diplomatic work is focused on Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. However, Republicans have sought to shift broader concerns about the US-Mexico border onto Harris, despite the administration emphasizing that she is not a “czar” in charge of managing the border.

During a recent NBC interview, Harris discussed the border issues in a series of exchanges with Lester Holt.

As a former US Senator from California, she represented a state with a 140-mile border with Mexico.

“It is my firm belief that if we care about what’s happening at the border, we better care about the root causes and address them,” she said. “And so that’s what I’m doing.”

Harris said she would personally go to the border “at some point” and stressed other administration officials had already paid visits.

“At some point, you know, we are going to the border,” Harris said. “We’ve been to the border. So this whole, this whole, this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”

“You haven’t been to the border,” Holt responded, calling out Harris’s lack of a visit since taking office as vice president.

“And I haven’t been to Europe,” Harris said. “I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border. … I care about what’s happening at the border. I’m in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration.”

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Lara Trump urges Americans living near to the southern border to ‘arm up, get guns’ and prepare to ‘take matters into their own hands’ against migrants

Lara Trump, US-Mexico border
Lara Trump said that migrants should never make the “dangerous journey” into the US via the southern border.

  • Lara Trump urged those living on the southern US border to “arm up” against migrants.
  • She also said that migrants should not make the “dangerous journey” into the US, during a Fox News appearance.
  • Her comments were met with outrage online, with some calling it “incitement to violence.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Lara Trump urged Americans living on the southern border to “arm up and get guns and be ready” during an appearance on Fox News on Saturday evening.

Former President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law was discussing President Joe Biden’s “disgraceful” plans for border security with Judge Jeanine Pirro.

“I don’t know what you tell the people who live at the southern border,” Trump said. “I guess they better arm up and get guns and be ready, and maybe they’re going to have to start taking matters into their hands.”

She then commented on migrants attempting to cross the border into the US. “These people should never make this dangerous journey here,” Trump added.

Trump was criticized on social media for her comments, with some saying that her words could promote vigilante violence.

There has been a significant influx of migrants arriving at the southern US border since the start of the year.

Since Biden became president, record numbers of migrants have tried to enter the US via Mexico. US authorities intercepted 180,034 migrants along the Mexico border in May, The Washington Post reported.

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The Biden administration moved more than $2 billion earmarked for COVID measures to deal with the influx of migrants at the border

Temporary Processing Facilities cbp migrant children border patrol
A Border Patrol temporary processing facility in Donna, Texas, for migrant children and families, pictured March 17, 2021.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services moved more than $2 billion from COVID-related relief funds to help the situation at the border.
  • At the southern border, there’s been an influx of migrants seeking entrance into the country.
  • US officials have struggled to respond to the surge.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Biden administration is funneling more than $2 billion toward the care of migrant children by and along the southern border, Politico reported.

That money had originally been earmarked to go toward various measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, according to Politico.

The Department of Health and Human Services said $850 million will come from funds originally intended to expand testing for COVID-19, Politico reported.

Another $850 million will be taken out of a fund set aside to help the country rebuild its emergency stockpile of medical items like masks, respirators, and gloves. The Strategic National Stockpile is meant to support the country as it deals with an emergency, but the pandemic has basically emptied it.

Another $436 million coming from various health initiatives will also be diverted to support children at the border, according to Politico.

At the US-Mexico border, there’s been an influx of migrants seeking entrance to the US and fleeing unfavorable or difficult conditions in their home countries.

In response to the surge, the Biden administration opened several temporary federal shelters, and as of early May, Us officials are holding about 22,500 unaccompanied children.

There’s concern that officials have struggled to adequately care for these migrant children. There are reports, for example, that say migrant children are not receiving enough food or appropriate mental health care.

Earlier this year, the public got a first look inside the facility after a Congressional representative leaked photos to the media. One facility showed adults and children sitting in what appeared to be makeshift rooms separating out groups of people.

Each room was cordoned off by what looks like a plastic enclosure, drawing comparisons to jail cells. Dozens of masked children can be seen lying down on gray mats. Some were crowded into corners, despite the threat of the coronavirus spreading. Others appeared to sit on the floor.

Such conditions have caused lawmakers and human-rights experts to sound the alarms and argue that migrant children should have better treatment upon crossing the border.

HHS did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment. But speaking to Politico, HHS spokesperson Mark Weber explained the department is collaborating with the Office of Management and Budget to respond to the influx of migrant at the border.

“All options are on the table,” Weber said. “This program has relied, year after year, on the transfer of funds.”

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The ACLU is running a two-page NYT ad on Mother’s Day urging the Biden administration to reunite migrant parents and children

An ad from the ACLU slated to run in the New York Times on Sunday.
An ad from the ACLU slated to run in the New York Times on Sunday.

  • The ACLU is urging that the Biden administration reunite families separated at the US-Mexico border.
  • The Biden administration has been working to reverse various Trump-era immigration policies.
  • There are still about 1,000 families who remain separated, according to the ACLU.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The American Civil Liberties Union took out a two-page ad in the Sunday New York Times that urges the Biden administration to reunite migrant families with their children.

The ad, meant to illustrate wall markings that track a child’s growth, is slated to run on Mother’s Day, an ACLU spokesperson confirmed to Insider. Axios first reported the news.

“Another birthday all by myself,” one of the ticks reads.

“I feel sad all the time,” another tick reads.

The Trump administration, in an immigration crackdown, removed about 5,500 children from their parents upon arriving to the US-Mexico border. Upon their separation, the Trump administration held children in cages, a controversial move that’s widely regarded as one of the former president’s biggest failures.

The ACLU in 2018 sued the Trump administration, in which a federal court in San Diego ruled that it’s unconstitutional to separate parents and children.

When now-President Joe Biden entered office, he promised to reunite families separated at the border. But the local of hundreds of parents remains unknown, and about 1,000 families still remain separated, the ACLU said in a press release.

“This Mother’s Day, hundreds of children remain separated from their mothers and thousands of others are suffering from the trauma Trump’s family separation practice inflicted,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement. “More than 5,500 families have suffered unimaginable trauma and deserve a path to citizenship, immediate care, and resources to help them.”

Biden, about two weeks into his first term as president, signed an executive order that rescinded Trump’s immigration policy. The order also instilled a Family Reunification Task Force, charged with leading the effort to bring together separated families.

The task force is expected to deliver a progress report on June 2.

“This Mother’s Day, despite the change in administration, hundreds of people will be forcibly expelled from the United States – including mothers traveling with or to their children – under a Trump-invented process that entirely bypasses the asylum laws,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement.

“President Biden promised to build a humane immigration system that aligns with our values,” Jadwat added in the statement. “Today millions of lives depend on his ability to deliver on that promise.”

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Kids held in a Dallas migrant shelter are reportedly hungry and begging volunteers for food

A security guard at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center checks in vehicles carrying basketball hoops Thursday, March 18, 2021, in Dallas. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is using he convention center as an emergency intake site to hold migrant teens who have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A security guard at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center checks in vehicles carrying basketball hoops, March 18, 2021, in Dallas.

  • Migrant children held in a Dallas holding center are hungry and begging for food, The Daily Beast reported.
  • Other reports say the children are also depressed and advocates worry about their mental health.
  • “It’s disturbing,” one volunteer told The Daily Beast. “They are being treated like prisoners, and it’s insane.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

There’s concern that children at one migrant shelter in Dallas, Texas, are being inadequately fed, according to The Daily Beast.

Five volunteers told The Daily Beast migrant children held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas often said they were hungry and begged for food.

“Numerous children have told me they are hungry and have begged me for additional food even after they have had a meal,” volunteer and special education teacher Kirsten Chilstrom told the outlet. “The food quality is subpar at best.”

Another volunteer, Sam Hodges, said there are problems with rationing the food at the convention center.

Multiple reports painted a concerning picture of conditions at the shelter, which is one of several temporary federal shelters opened to migrants amid a surge at the US-Mexico border. CBS News reported that March counted a record of nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children reaching US custody and 5,767 minors held in custody. Since then, the number has fallen about 88% to 677 unaccompanied children in custody as of May 2.

Earlier this year, the public got a first look inside the facility after a congressional representative leaked photos to the media. One facility showed adults and children sitting in what appeared to be makeshift rooms separating out groups of people.

Each room was cordoned off by what looks like a plastic enclosure, drawing comparisons to jail cells. Dozens of masked children can be seen lying down on gray mats. Some were crowded into corners, despite the threat of the coronavirus spreading. Others appeared to sit on the floor.

Such conditions have caused lawmakers and human-rights experts to sound the alarms and argue that migrant children should have better treatment upon crossing the border.

NBC affiliate KXAS-TV reported that there are concerns related to the mental health of the children in the facility.

“A lot of the kids are stressed out, high anxiety levels,” local LULAC president Rene Martinez told KXAS-TV of the conditions inside. LULAC is a civil-rights organization focusing on supporting Latin American citizens. “There’s been a few fights,” Martinez said.

Other advocates told the Dallas Morning News that kids are being held with limited access to sunlight and there are children with depression.

“It’s disturbing,” Chilstrom told the Daily Beast. “They are being treated like prisoners, and it’s insane.”

The Dallas shelter is managed by a military contractor called Culmen International, the Daily Beast reported. But Culmen does not usually have any input into children’s welfare, according to the Daily Beast.

Culmen International did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. Neither did the Department of Health and Human Services.

But in a statement to the Daily Beast, the agency emphasized that the Dallas shelter provides temporary housing for migrants and said children receive meals and participate in recreational activities, among other things.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Officials found an unaccompanied 4-year-old boy walking toward the US border, as Biden faces a surge in migrant children trying to enter

Migrant child
An unaccompanied 4-year-old Honduran child is pictured after being rescued by Mexican officials in the border city of Reynosa, Mexico. Photo edited by Reuters.

  • A four-year-old child was found trying to cross the US-Mexico border by himself.
  • Mexican officials said he was found walking towards the border near the Rio Grande river.
  • An increased number of unaccompanied migrant children have been trying to enter the US.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A four-year-old child was found walking towards the US-Mexico border by himself, officials said Wednesday.

He was found unaccompanied and walking towards the border near the Rio Grande river, said Mexico’s National Migration Institute, according to Reuters.

The boy, from Honduras, was rescued by members of the National Migration Institute and the US National Guard, Reuters reported.

He was found near a group of mothers and children also from Honduras, but none of them claimed responsibility for him or said he was their relative, Reuters said.

The boy and the group were taken into what Reuters described as “a local branch of a Mexican authority dedicated to family welfare.”

An increased number of unaccompanied children have been arriving at the border after policy changes by President Joe Biden’s administration, including measures to reverse controversial Trump-era policies.

The administration says that it doesn’t want to turn them back and to dangerous conditions, and doesn’t want to send them to someone in the US who has not been properly vetted – leading to crowded detention centers at the border.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Photo shows unaccompanied migrant children crammed in a single playpen at an overcrowded border facility

AP21089670716537
Monitored by a caretaker, young unaccompanied migrants, aged from 3 to 9, watch TV inside a playpen at a US Customs and Border Protection facility.

  • A photo shows unaccompanied migrant children housed in a playpen at a border facility.
  • Children aged between 3 and 9 are kept there with mats for sleeping, the AP reported.
  • The facility is overcrowded, and pods around 3,200 square feet had more than 500 children in them.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A photo shows young, unaccompanied migrant children crammed in a playpen at an overcrowded facility at the US-Mexico border.

The single Department of Homeland Security facility in Donna, Texas, that has a capacity of 250 is housing more than 4,000 migrants, including children, the Associated Press reported.

And some pods around 3,200 square feet in size had more than 500 children in them, according to the AP.

One photo shows young children, wearing masks due to the coronavirus pandemic, in a crowded playpen.

According to the AP, the children aged between 3 and 9 are kept apart from everyone else, and are kept in a playpen where they have mats for sleeping. They are the youngest children in that facility’s custody, Oscar Escamilla, acting executive officer of the US Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley, told the AP.

The children in the playpen crossed the US-Mexico border by themselves, Escamilla added.

An increased number of unaccompanied children have been arriving at the US border after policy changes by President Joe Biden’s administration, including measures to reverse controversial Trump-era policies.

The Biden administration says that it doesn’t want to turn unaccompanied children away to dangerous conditions, or to send them to someone in the US who has not been properly vetted – leading to crowded centers at the border.

Human rights groups say that children are being held in “inappropriate” detention centers.

See more photos of the facility hereĀ»

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Rep. Veronica Escobar says that Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn are using the southern border ‘as a prop’

Veronica Escobar
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) speaks on Capitol Hill.

  • Rep. Veronica Escobar said that Sens. Cruz and Cornyn are using the border “as a prop.”
  • Escobar said that the root causes of immigration must be addressed or the situation will not change.
  • “They had their chance to govern,” she said of Cruz and Cornyn. “They chose not to.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas said in a recent Daily Beast podcast interview that a southern border tour held last Friday by GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn was simply “political theater.”

During an episode of “The New Abnormal” featuring editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast, Escobar lamented that immigration has been politicized to a point where crafting real solutions has been absent from the debate.

“I think there are 18 senators that are parachuting into Texas and that delegation is led by John Cornyn and Ted Cruz,” she said. “These are people who are about to engage in political theater, use the border as a prop, [and] do a whole lot of complaining and finger-pointing. But these are the same people who’ve been in the Senate for a number of years.”

She added: “They were in the Senate when their party had control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. They did not solve this problem.”

Escobar said that with the exception of former President Donald Trump’s child separation policy, the “vast majority” of his immigration policies are still in effect.

“It didn’t stop people from coming,” she said. “They had their chance to govern. They chose not to.”

The offices of Cruz and Cornyn did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read more: Meet the presidential confidants, Delaware’s closely-knit and well-positioned congressional delegation, Joe Biden’s entrusted with cementing his legacy

In 2014, Escobar, who represents a border district anchored in El Paso, wrote a piece called “Why the Border Crisis Is a Myth,” where she said many politicians were catering anti-immigrant sentiments to justify tightened immigration restrictions.

“What has happened repeatedly from Washington has been this idea that if we could just tough enough on the border, all of our immigration challenges will go away,” she said. “The walls kept getting bigger and taller and thicker and uglier, [with] investments in drones and personnel. Enter Donald Trump and his cruelty and dehumanization. What we now know after four years of some of the most draconian immigration policies is unless you address the root causes, you’re not going to change things much.”

She added: “The other thing that I hope we realize is that migration will happen. You cannot stop migration. People move around. What you can do is do your best as a country to work collaboratively with leaders of your hemisphere.”

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the former 2020 Democratic presidential contender and 2018 Democratic Senate nominee in Texas, recently mocked Cruz’s footage of his border excursion at the Rio Grande.

In a blurry video that Cruz posted on his Twitter account, he alleged to have observed smugglers on the other side of the US-Mexico border.

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