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Trump Border Wall Post-Shutdown Discussion (Wall-Fight)

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Aren't they supposed to do some type of environmental assessment?


New border wall near unique wetlands endangered water supply


The agency in charge of building the border wall received repeated warnings: tap water from nearby wells, and the unique wetlands of southeastern Arizona — yes, Arizona — home to a variety of wildlife and endangered fish will go dry.


Immigration officials didn’t head those warnings. Then, several ponds at the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge found themselves without water or with an extremely low supply, according to documents obtained by two different environmental groups.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency in charge of the refuge, said in a statement on Thursday that ponds “remain intact and the refuge continues to manage for endangered fish and wildlife.”


Contractors working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection began building a new stretch of border wall there in October, pumping millions of gallons of groundwater to mix cement for the 30-foot (9-meter) steel fencing that has been a signature promise of President Donald Trump. The Trump administration has promised to build 450 miles (724 kilometers) of wall along the border with Mexico by the end of this year; it has so far built 275 miles (443 kilometers).


The San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1982 to protect the rare wetlands in the middle of the desert that are home to a variety of wildlife, including several species of fish that are protected by the Endangered Species Act. Sitting on over 2,300 acres on the U.S.-Mexico border in southeastern Arizona, close to New Mexico, the refuge is home to hummingbirds, 75 species of butterflies, bats and, most importantly, to fish native to Rio Yaqui, which the refuge was set up to protect.


“It’s a pretty magical place,” said Randy Serraglio, Southwest conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The analogy is an oasis, really. That’s why the water withdrawals are so damaging.”


The refuge itself is supposed to be protected under environmental laws, but the government has waived those in the name of border security.


Other than the Fish and Wildlife Service employees who manage the refuge, and the environmental groups that oppose construction, the refuge and other ecological treasures have no protections when it comes to border wall construction.


Dozens of records obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, which has sued to stop border wall construction, show months of warning from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees in charge of the refuge that went largely ignored.


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  • 5 months later...

What is happening with US President Donald Trump's border wall, and what does president-elect Joe Biden intend to do?


A centrepiece of US President Donald Trump's hardline immigration policy was the construction of a "big, beautiful wall" on the US-Mexico border — and the promise that Mexico would pay for it.


Mr Trump will this week leave office with the wall less than half complete according to his initial specifications, as well as no apparent funding contribution from Mexico.


So how much of the wall has been built and what will be its fate be under Joe Biden's administration?


Mr Trump repeatedly promised in 2015 and 2016 the wall would be 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometres) long.


He argued the wall would combine with mountain terrain and rivers to create an effective barrier across the 1,954 mile (3,145km) US-Mexico border.


During his 2020 State of the Union address, Mr Trump said "substantially more than 500 miles" of the wall would be complete by early 2021.


As of January 8, 2021, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says the Trump administration had completed 453 miles (729km) of wall overall.


However, much of the new wall has simply replaced barriers put in place by previous administrations, with only 80 miles (128km) of barrier built in areas where no structures previously stood, according to CBP.


When Trump leaves office, the wall will be less than half built, judged against his initial promises.


Who ultimately paid for it?


"Mexico is going to pay for the wall," Trump said in an interview with MSNBC in January 2016.


"When during the campaign I would say: 'Mexico's going to pay for it,' obviously I never said this, and I never meant they're going to write out a check," he said in January 2019.


"I said they're going to pay for it. They are. They are paying for it with the incredible deal we made, called the United States, Mexico and Canada — USMCA — deal."


The USMCA free trade agreement contains no specific provision requiring Mexico to fund the wall.


In fact, the US government has wholly footed the bill: about US $15 billion (AUD $19.5 billion) in funding has come from the Department of Homeland Security, as well as from the Defense and Treasury Departments.


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Proclamation on the Termination Of Emergency With Respect To The Southern Border Of The United States And Redirection Of Funds Diverted To Border Wall Construction 





Like every nation, the United States has a right and a duty to secure its borders and protect its people against threats.  But building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution.  It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security.  My Administration is committed to ensuring that the United States has a comprehensive and humane immigration system that operates consistently with our Nation’s values.  In furtherance of that commitment, I have determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border in Proclamation 9844 of February 15, 2019 (Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Southern Border of the United States), was unwarranted.  It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall.  I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall.  


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All border wall construction to stop by Wednesday


All border wall construction is scheduled to grind to a halt this week, after a notice from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection notified contractors of the stoppage.


The release indicated that CBP contractors must stop all border wall construction projects by Wednesday, Jan. 27, according to Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.


While the statement did not indicate whether contractors with the Department of Defense or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would also stop, Cuellar said it is likely they will also halt any projects.


"This morning, as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I received notification that in accordance with President Biden’s executive order, all CBP contractors have now been formally notified by CBP Procurement to pause construction activities on CBP self-executed projects," Rep. Cuellar said in a statement. "While CBP cannot speak on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), it is expected that DOD and USACE are undertaking parallel action on CBP-funded border wall projects that they are overseeing."


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  • 2 months later...

Migrants jumping Trump's multi-million dollar border wall using $5 ladders


Mexican migrants are making their way into the US by scaling former president Trump's controversial border wall with cheap wooden ladders.

Border Patrol officers are frequently finding discarded ladders along a stretch of the border wall between Hidalgo and Granjeno in Texas, according to Texas Monthly.


According to Texas Monthly, this section of wall alone cost taxpayers $27 million (AU$35 million) per 1.3km to build, with some calling the border wall a waste of money if it can be beaten for as little as $5.


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Pentagon cancels all contracts to build Trump’s border wall


"Consistent with the president's proclamation, 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," Deputy Pentagon Spokesperson Jamal Brown said in a statement.


The contracts being cancelled are any that used funding originally intended for use by the military and its functions.


Mr Brown said the move was reflective of the Pentagon's mission to provide for the military and military families.


"Today's action reflects this administration's continued commitment to defending our nation and supporting our service members and their families," he said.


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The guy who crowdfunded $25 million to build Trump's border wall can't use the money for his legal defense, a judge ruled


"We Build a Wall" co-founder Brian Kolfage cannot use the funds he purportedly raised for a US-Mexico border wall in order to fund his legal defense in a criminal fraud case, a federal judge said Thursday in a ruling reviewed by Insider.


Kolfage has been under indictment since August 2020 for charges stemming from an alleged scheme related to a crowdfunding campaign for a wall at the US-Mexico border, a policy priority of former President Donald Trump.


In December 2018, during a government shutdown, Kolfage - a right-wing media figure who lost several limbs while serving in the Iraq War - tried to raise $1 billion to purportedly build the wall himself.


He ultimately raised around $25 million for the project, called "We Build a Wall." Federal prosecutors in Manhattan say he took hundreds of thousands of dollars from that sum to enrich himself and spend on things like a boat, a luxury SUV, a golf cart, jewelry, plastic surgery, home renovations, and credit-card debt.


Prosecutors also charged Stephen Bannon, Trump's former campaign chairman and top White House policy adviser, in the crowdfunding scheme, though Trump pardoned him on his last day in office. Trump did not pardon Kolfage or Andrew Babolat and Timothy Shea, two other alleged co-conspirators.


Shortly after the charges were filed in August, the judge overseeing the case, Analisa Torres, granted prosecutors' request to freeze the funds Kolfage raised as part of a restraining order, court filings show. But Kolfage argued he needs the funds to pay an insurance policy he took out for "We Build a Wall" that would fund his legal defense.


In the new ruling, Torres, citing legal precedents, wrote that Kolfage's constitutional right to counsel doesn't mean she needs to unfreeze the funds so that Kolfage can pay his preferred lawyer.


"So long as a court finds probable cause that the restrained assets are forfeitable, a defendant is not entitled to modification of the restraining order to allow him to access funds to pay for an attorney," Torres wrote.


Torres left a door open for Kolfage to overturn the restraining order and gain access to the funds. She said that he can still request a hearing to challenge the underlying probable cause that led to the restraining order, but he must prove he needs the funds to pay for his defense in order to request that hearing.


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You mean, I can't use the funds that I raised to build a wall, to defend myself against the lawsuit that points out that I didn't spend it on building the wall?  

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Biden Returns $26M in Border Wall Money to Virginia Navy Shipyard


President Joe Biden is sending $26 million in federal funds back to a U.S. Navy shipyard in Virginia. The money had been diverted by President Donald Trump to pay for a wall along the Mexico border.


The Virginian-Pilot reported Monday that the shipyard money is a sliver of the $3.6 billion that Trump had moved from the Department of Defense to pay for the wall. The Biden Administration is now sending billions of dollars back to a series of military projects.


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