Biden didn’t completely halt border wall construction

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The Biden administration paused border wall construction when the president entered office, but has since resumed because Biden says he legally can’t stop it.

Over the last couple of years, record numbers of migrants have continually crossed the southern U.S. border without prior authorization. As a result, border security has been one of the most contentious political issues and will be at the forefront of this year’s presidential election.

Viral posts from March 2024 claim that President Joe Biden stopped construction of the border wall, a project which former President Donald Trump frequently touted during his presidency. VERIFY reader Kelly also reached out to ask about what Biden has done with the border wall.  

THE QUESTION

Did President Biden completely halt construction of the border wall?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, President Biden did not completely halt construction of the border wall.

WHAT WE FOUND

President Joe Biden ordered a pause in further border wall construction soon after he first took office in 2021. However, his administration has since restarted border wall construction, albeit at a slower pace than construction during the Trump administration. Biden has said the funding for these projects was already allocated and his administration legally can’t redirect it. 

On Jan. 20, 2021, Biden’s first day in office, the president issued a proclamation to “pause work on each construction project on the southern border wall, to the extent permitted by law.” The administration studied the consequences of halting various wall construction projects during the pause.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on June 11, 2021 that it was terminating all border wall projects that used funds diverted from military projects and other sources. However, DHS said Congress provided some funding for border barrier projects which it was legally required to use for its appropriated purpose.

Since then, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which is an agency under DHS, has planned and started multiple border wall construction projects.

Most recently, CBP said it began planning 20 miles of new border barriers in Starr County, Texas, in August 2023. That project prompted a question about Biden’s campaign promise not to build anymore border wall from a reporter at an Oct. 5, 2023 press briefing.

“The border wall — the money was appropriated for the border wall,” Biden told the reporter. “I tried to get to them to reappropriate it, to redirect that money. They didn’t. They wouldn’t. And in the meantime, there’s nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated. I can’t stop that.”

In October 2022, CBP sought public comment for plans to build 1,700 feet of new border wall in Arizona. In June 2023, the agency announced it was moving forward with the construction of 20 miles of new border barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

CBP has also considered 155 miles of new border barriers elsewhere in Texas.

Whether the Biden administration continues building new border barriers depends on if Congress allocates more money for barrier projects in future budgets. 

The president’s proposed border security budget released on March 11, 2024 does not include money for more barrier construction. However, previous Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposals from congressional Republicans have included more than $2 billion in funding for border wall construction.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in September 2023 that CBP and the Department of Defense installed about 458 miles of border barrier panels at the border during Trump’s administration, although about 371 miles of panels replaced existing barriers. 

That would mean the Trump administration constructed about 87 miles of border barrier where there weren’t any border barriers previously. A previous VERIFY fact-check found 52 miles of those barriers were primary walls, which are the first barriers someone encounters when crossing the border.

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so that you can understand what is true and false. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text alerts and our YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn More »

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Biden didn’t completely halt border wall construction

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