Joe Biden's intent to ditch Trump's plans to build a border wall on the US southern border could cost the country's taxpayers "billions of dollars", Customs and Border Protection (CBP) chief Mark Morgan has warned. He explained that a little over half of the planned 800 miles (1287 kilometres) of the wall has already been constructed and that contracts for the construction of the remaining 350 miles (563 kilometres) have already been signed.
He noted that not only would the government have to pay settlement fees to the contractors under the contracts' provisions, but would also have to spend more money to stop the construction of the sections that will have already been started by 20 January.
"We’re going to walk away from areas of the wall that have already been constructed. There are going to be some areas where, let's say we’ve already started to dig a trench and put some rebar in there, we’re actually going to have to stop and pay extra to have them remove the rebar and fill in the trench", Morgan warned.
The CBP head further said that 270,000 tons of steel bollards have already been ordered for the remaining portions of the wall and discarding the contracts for their acquisition would also make the White House pay for either the utilisation or storage of the unused bollards.
Morgan's remarks stand in contradiction to a US Army Corps of Engineers assessment that settlement payments might be as high as $700 million, while the unused funds allocated for the wall's construction may be over $3 billion by the time of Joe Biden's inauguration. He noted that there had been a "spin" that ramped up the assessment of potential costs of wrapping up the wall project prematurely.
Not Just About Money for Construction
The CBP chief raised another argument against halting the wall's construction under Biden. Morgan stressed that the absence of a physical barrier would impede the efforts of the CBP at preventing illegal immigration and stopping drug smuggling operations.
In light of this, the US official expressed hope that Biden's administration will not kill the entire project and will simply refuse to build the physical wall itself – President Donald Trump's iconic pet project. The construction of the wall is accompanied by building auxiliary infrastructure – roads for the border service to drive on to stop incursions, lights, and high-tech monitoring systems that also help the CBP do its job. Mark Morgan is hopeful that the Democrat will allow this part of the wall project to continue after he takes office.