United States

Pentagon to cancel Trump border wall projects using military funds

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U.S. border patrol agents stand near the location of halted construction along the U.S. Border wall with Mexico as an unfinished section is shown on Otay Mountain, east of San Diego, California, U.S., February 2, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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WASHINGTON, April 30 (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Friday said it was canceling the construction of parts of former President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico that were being built using military funds, with the unused money being returned to military.

Trump declared a national emergency in 2019 in an effort to redirect funding to build a wall along the U.S. southern border.

President Joe Biden issued a proclamation on Jan. 20, his first day in office, ordering a freeze on border wall projects and directing a review of the legality of its funding and contracting methods.

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"The Department of Defense is proceeding with canceling all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for other military missions and functions such as schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account," Pentagon spokesman Jamal Brown said in a statement.

Brown said the returned funds would be used for deferred military construction projects.

It was not immediately clear how much would be returned to the military, but it was likely to be several billion dollars.

Trump's diversion of funds from the Pentagon had been heavily criticized by lawmakers, who said it put national security at risk and circumvented congress.

In 2019 alone, the military said more than 120 U.S. military construction projects would be adversely affected by Trump's move.

The Department of Homeland Security also announced on Friday that it would take steps to address "physical dangers resulting from the previous administration’s approach to border wall construction."

It said it would repair the Rio Grande Valley’s flood barrier system, which it said the wall construction under the Trump administration had blown large holes into, as well as remediate soil erosion in San Diego along a wall segment.

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Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by David Gregorio

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