Biden announces end to Trump’s border wall project

 The U.S. side of Playas de Tijuana, where the border wall fades into the Pacific
The U.S. side of Playas de Tijuana, where the border wall fades into the Pacific Ocean.
(Molly O’Toole / Los Angeles Times)

President Biden is immediately ending the national emergency that President Trump declared on the border in February 2018 to divert billions of dollars from the Defense Department to wall construction. He also is halting construction to review contracts and how wall money might be redirected.

Despite Trump’s repeated promises that Mexico would pay for the wall, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says Americans have committed $15 billion for more than 700 miles. It is unclear how many miles are under contract and what penalties the government would have to pay for canceling them.

The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments Feb. 22 on the legality of Trump’s diverting Defense Department funds for counter-narcotics efforts and military construction projects to wall construction.


Biden advisors called the wall a “wasteful” and potentially illegal diversion of billions of dollars from other programs. Trump reallocated that money from military accounts after declaring a national emergency when Congress by bipartisan votes refused to approve his full requests to fund the wall.

The new president signed 15 executive actions and two directives just hours after taking the oath of office at the Capitol, pivoting quickly from his pared-down inauguration ceremony to enacting his agenda.

Only two recent presidents signed executive actions on their first day in office — and each signed just one. But Biden, facing the debilitating coronavirus pandemic, a damaged economy and a riven electorate, is intent on demonstrating a sense of urgency and competence that he argues has been missing under his Republican predecessor.

“There’s no time to start like today,” Biden said in his first comments to reporters as president.

Times Staff Writer Evan Halper contributed to this report.

President Trump’s visit to a refurbished section of border wall in Yuma highlighted his difficulty finding achievements he can run on in November.

June 23, 2020