HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — An executive order from President Joe Biden ordered all border wall construction to stop on January 27 and remain for 60 days. The administration will then discuss the re-appropriation of funds. Officials and activists are taking this opportunity to voice where they want that money to be used.
There is $10 billion in federal funding being re-negotiated, according to Congressman Henry Cuellar.
“There was about $2.75 billion that got appropriated by the republican congress for border construction—that money will stay in home-land,” said Cuellar. “But we hope to repurpose or redirect that money into technology, equipment and personnel.”
Activists across the border demonstrated last Saturday that they want to see contracts completely terminated, but explain some wall-construction may have already been paid for by Congress.
“Now the trick is, within that proclamation, there is a section on how the pause may not apply in certain conditions for safety reasons,” said community engagement and outreach coordinator for the Texas Civil Rights Project, Roberto Lopez. “And the second thing, an exception to the pause for funds already appropriated by Congress.”
What is clear, all federally-funded wall is paused, but what if it’s a private wall?
“Private dollars and they’re going on private property land, that—we can’t stop that—unless we pass some legislation,” said Cuellar.
Cuellar says more border-technology is needed, instead of more wall. Pointing out that it takes $26 million to fund one mile of wall versus less than $1 million to invest in border-protection-technology.
“Look there are areas where—and I want you to understand this—where one-third of the cameras aren’t even working, they’re up there just for show or deterrence,” said Cuellar.
Border-activist Roberto Lopez says some funds should be reallocated towards community need.
“So, instead I wish we could instead, use these fundings to support and uplift our communities,” said Lopez.