By Mark Tapscott
American taxpayers are still paying $3 million a day for former president Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico that President Joe Biden cancelled on his first day in office, according to Sen. Joni Ernst.
The Iowa Republican wants to know since taxpayers are funding it anyway, why not go ahead and build the wall?
“We are witnessing a crisis of historic proportions at our southern border under the Biden administration.
“President Biden’s refusal to take action at the border has been a disaster, but his decision to cancel border barrier projects that were already underway is literally costing taxpayers billions,” Ernst told reporters on May 24.
“Here’s a simple solution, Mr. President: Let’s put these materials to use, let’s end the taxpayer-funded waste, let’s stop the unprecedented flow of illegal migrants, and let’s build it!”
To that end, Ernst said she is introducing legislation—Border’s Unused Idle and Lying Dormant Inventory Transfer Act (BUILD IT)—to require that unused funds appropriated for the purpose of building the border wall be made available to any state government that wants to complete construction on its section of the structure.
The current costs of as much as $3 million per day are for contractors to keep an eye on the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of concrete, steel and other materials required to build the wall that stands at least 18-feet high.
An estimated 458 miles of new wall had been completed when Biden terminated construction a few hours after being sworn in as chief executive. The total length of the U.S. border with Mexico is 1,954 miles.
Within days of Biden cancelling Trump’s wall construction, a steadily growing stream of illegal immigrants, including individuals from Mexico, Central and South America, and even the Middle East and Africa began coming across the unprotected border.
Most of the unwalled segments of the border are in Texas, which has been crushed by the surge of illegal immigrants that has also included encounters of state and federal law enforcement officials with dozens of individuals on the United States’ “terrorist watchlist.”
Many more such individuals could be among the more than 250,000 “got-aways”—individuals illegally crossing the border who successfully evaded capture by U.S. officials.
Many of those who are captured, as well as an unknown number who aren’t, are “mules,” individuals being paid by Mexican drug cartels to carry drugs, especially fentanyl.
Biden has also said U.S. officials will stop enforcing Title 42, a controversial regulation issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that authorizes border officials to return captured illegal border crossers to Mexico.
A federal judge recently barred the Biden administration from stopping enforcement, but experts project that as many as 18,000 illegal immigrants will cross the border into the United States each day if Title 42 is suspended.
“At that rate, within less than a year, the number of illegal immigrants admitted into the country through the southern border will be more than double the entire population of Iowa,” Ernst told reporters.
The Hawkeye State’s population is 3.19 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
While Ernst lauded the judge’s decision to bar suspension of Title 42, she also warned that “given this administration’s track record on weak policy and refusal to secure the border, there is little comfort that they won’t keep pushing.”
Ernst said she is introducing her proposal because “some states that are being overrun by the influx of migrants would still like to set up barriers to better control who is coming across the southern border.”
Taxpayers have already paid $350 million for the border wall materials, Ernst said.
“Why not states who want to build the wall access these unused materials?” she asked. “It would save the taxpayers money and deter the unprecedented number of border crossings we’ve seen as a result of Biden’s border policies.”
Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) are co-sponsors of the Build It proposal.
Ernst noted that at least two Democratic senators, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Mark Kelley of Arizona, have recently spoken in favor of completing the Trump wall.
Hassan and Kelley are both involved in highly competitive re-election campaigns. Ernst said she will be inviting the two Democrats to become co-sponsors.
Ernst said her proposal includes a provision requiring states seeking the unused materials to certify that they intend to use the materials for border wall construction.
“So a state like California couldn’t apply for those unused materials and then turn around and use them in San Francisco for homeless camps or something like that, they would actually have to use it to secure their southern border.”
Ernst also said she was awarding Biden her May 2022 “Squeal Award” for “creating a crisis at our border while wasting billions of taxpayer dollars to not build the barriers that are necessary to secure the border with the materials that have already been paid for.”