US President Joe Biden has rescinded the national emergency at the US-Mexico border issued by former President Donald Trump to justify construction on the border wall, the White House announced on Thursday. Terminating the national emergency marks the culmination of the current administration’s effort to end construction on the border wall, which began when Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office halting construction on the wall.
“I have determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border was unwarranted,” Biden said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He repeated concerns that he had previously voiced about the use of taxpayer dollars on the wall’s construction:
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. … I hereby report to the Congress that the national emergency declared by Proclamation 9844, and continued on February 13, 2020, and January 15, 2021, is terminated and that the authorities invoked in that proclamation will no longer be used to construct a wall at the southern border.
Trump issued Proclamation 9844 in February 2019 after facing repeated difficulties in obtaining funds for the wall construction project. Declaring a national emergency at the southern border allowed the former president to divert funds from other agencies for use on the southern border wall instead of working with Congress to obtain the funding.
Trump’s decision to bypass Congress and divert funds for the wall’s construction sparked several lawsuits against him and his administration. In one case, the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the $2.5 billion diverted from the Department of Defense as an unconstitutional infringement on Congress’ authority to determine funding. The US Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case and was set to hear oral argument later this month, but Biden asked the court to cancel oral argument since his policy concerning the wall was likely to render the case moot. The court granted the request last week.
Several members of Congress have praised Biden’s final step in ending the border wall project: “Trump’s national emergency was never about security,” Representative Raul Grijalva, who represents an Arizona district containing over half of the state’s border with Mexico, said on Twitter. “It was about stealing money to fund a monument to his racist policies along the Southern Border. Now we must cancel the contracts & ensure that not another foot of border wall is constructed.”