By Masooma Haq
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) on March 17 led 40 Republican colleagues to sign a letter asking the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate whether President Joe Biden’s suspension of funding and construction of the southern border wall was justified under federal law.
On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order that halted construction on the wall and ordered a suspension of congressional funds allocated for the project. Biden also signed an order that canceled the emergency designation at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The senators wrote (pdf) that despite the progress being made to control illegal immigration, with additional funds being authorized by Congress for the wall, Biden still signed a proclamation directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of Management and Budget to “pause immediately the obligation of funds related to the construction of the southern border wall” and “pause work on each construction project on the southern border wall.”
Biden’s proclamation stated that the wall was a waste of money and isn’t a “serious policy solution.”
The group of Republican senators believes the actions violate the Impoundment Control Act (ICA) but they want a legal evaluation from Comptroller General Gene Dodaro.
“They are also a blatant violation of federal law and infringe on Congress’s constitutional power of the purse. We are writing regarding these actions. We believe they violated the ICA, as interpreted by your office, and we request your legal opinion on the matter,” wrote the senators.
The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 reconfirmed Congress’s power of the purse. In addition, the law established ways to prevent the sitting president and other government officials from single-handedly replacing their own funding preference for that of Congress.
“The president is not vested with the power to ignore or amend a duly enacted law, instead he must faithfully execute the law as Congress enacts it,” the GOP letter continued.
The senators said they believe the freezing of the border wall funds and constructions contributed to the “humanitarian and national security crisis” at the border.
A border patrol agent told Full Measure News that the halting of the southern wall construction was hasty and has left wide roads that drug cartels can now use for illegal activity.
“Now what we have is an infrastructure that the cartels can benefit from,” said the border patrol agent.
Meanwhile, border states such as Texas are trying to work around Biden’s border wall policies. Texas, which shares 1,200 miles of border with Mexico, is one of the states that bears the brunt of the huge influx of illegal immigrants.
On March 15, Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton, a Republican, filed HB 2862, which would fund the completion of the border wall in Texas with state funds.
Apprehensions at the southern border have climbed every month since April 2020 and reached 96,974 in February, according to new data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency that includes Border Patrol.
Opponents to Biden’s immigration policies say that his other decisions to reverse Trump-era policies, such as the remain-in-Mexico program, which required asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico until their claims could be heard, are contributing to the surge in migrants at the border.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) took to Twitter on March 16 to comment on the crisis at the border.
“Halting border wall construction, reducing enforcement, pausing deportations—Biden sent the message loud and clear that our border is open. Now, we’re seeing a predictable crisis of Dems’ own making, on pace to break 20-year records,” wrote Thune.
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