In a letter he sent to Congress on Thursday, President Joe Biden announced he was rescinding an unpopular national emergency order issued by former President Donald Trump that sought to allow the former chief executive to divert federal funds toward building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
In his letter, Biden, writing specifically to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), stated that he was terminating Trump’s order after deeming it unnecessary to his current objectives as president.
“I have determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border was unwarranted,” Biden wrote. “I have also announced that it shall be the policy of my administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall, and that I am directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to that end.”
The order was initially made in February 2019 after Trump failed to negotiate funds for his border wall project through Congress, following the end of a 35-day long government shutdown. Immediately after the order was made, several environmental groups, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the administration over its attempt to divert $2.5 billion in federal funds to pay for the project.
Twenty states across the country, led by California, also sued the former administration, arguing that the move by Trump exceeded his authority to use federal funds without congressional approval.
Biden’s announcement on Thursday comes after his administration had requested the Supreme Court to drop some immigration-related cases, including lawsuits regarding the legality of the national emergency order, noting that the executive branch would now be reviewing the legality themselves. The high court agreed to remove those cases earlier this month.
The Biden administration, in requesting those cases be dropped, added that it may revisit some of those cases in the months ahead “should the matter not be resolved” when they conclude with their assessments.
Immigrant rights groups have praised Biden’s decision to rescind several of the Trump administration’s more iniquitous policies, but concerns remain. As part of their proposed U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, for instance, the Biden administration has indicated that while it doesn’t plan to build a physical wall, it will instead accelerate the installation of a “smart” wall — one that will focus on deterring migration by utilizing new surveillance technologies, including artificial intelligence, facial recognition software, drones, infrared cameras and radar to detect border crossings.
“I think there’s a lot of concerns and red flags about the way border security is framed and also the kind of very chummy relationships between the tech industry and the administration overall,” Jacinta González, senior campaign organizer with the immigrants rights group Mijente told Truthout’s Candice Bernd earlier this month.
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