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District 28 US Congressman Henry Cuellar indicated earlier this month that he supports termination of any contracts still ongoing to build a wall along the Texas-Mexico border.
The congressman made the statement in an announcement responding to news from the US Department of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that the agency is terminating two Laredo Sector border wall contracts funded by the Department of Homeland Security.
The funding was made for fiscal 2020 in an appropriations bill and was outlined in an executive order signed by former President Donal Trump.
Further construction of a border wall has been put on hold, and no portion of the planned wall had been built in the Laredo area.
“There are more effective ways to meet our security goals, including utilizing advanced technology, increasing personnel, and giving personnel the proper resources on the border,” Rep. Cuellar said. “Since the Trump proclamation was issued, I have fought to prevent a wall from being built on our southern border and sent a letter to President Biden asking him to terminate all border wall contracts.”
Rep. Cuellar serves as vice chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and said he has “secured language in appropriations bills to prohibit the use of federal funds in building a border wall.”
“This announcement is a promising step in our work to halt the remaining construction of the ineffective and wasteful border wall and undo the damage that borderlands have experienced since 2016,” the congressman said of the stoppage and the upcoming contract termination. “However, our work continues. I remain steadfast in my commitment to working with the Biden administration until every border wall contract is terminated and all construction crews leave our border communities.”
According to the CBP, construction had not yet started on either of the two Laredo Sector projects and no land acquisition had begun. The agency has separate contracting mechanisms in place to begin the environmental planning process.
A report on the development indicates that with the expected level of environmental planning, CBP anticipates the process to take between nine to fifteen months, with contractors being paid for work performed, in accordance with the contract language.
As part of the DHS Border Wall Plan, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 10142, CBP has been assessing paused border wall projects and associated construction contracts to move forward.
Rep. Cuellar said upcoming steps in the plan include limited work to address life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements; and environmental planning, including environmental planning consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) across planned border projects.