Rep. Cuellar Leads Letter Calling for the End of National Emergency and Termination of Border Wall Contracts
Congressman urges President-Elect Biden to restore smart border security without border wall construction
Washington | Charlotte Laracy, DC Press Secretary (202-226-1583); Alexis Torres, District Press Secretary (956-286-6007), December 9, 2020
Washington, D.C.-- Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) led a congressional letter to President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., calling his administration to rescind the national emergency declaration and reprogrammed funding; direct the Department of Justice to dismiss all condemnation suits; terminate for convenience all current and pending Army Corps of Engineer contracts; and rescind Homeland Security waiver authority relating to the construction of new border barriers.
Working with the Biden administration, Congressman Cuellar will restore effective border security policies, which does not include any wasteful border barrier, as well as prioritize saving American lives and jobs during this pandemic.
“We must remedy the challenges border communities have faced over the last four years due to the Trump administration’s insistence on constructing a wasteful border wall,” said Congressman Cuellar. “At a time when we continue to face major public health and economic crises, we are calling for the President-Elect to immediately halt all border wall construction, return unconstitutionally reprogrammed military funding, and restore private property rights. Our number one priority at this time should be preventing the spread of COVID-19, saving lives, and supporting working families.”
“Federal funding must be invested in strong border security,” Congressman Cuellar continued. “We cannot give the impression that we have an “open border,” which would overwhelm our nation’s capacity for humanitarian aid. We must focus on modernizing land ports of entry and improving our security infrastructure; hiring additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and support staff; bolstering U.S. Border Patrol equipment and technology; and coordinating these efforts with our neighbors to the south. As the Vice Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations, I am committed to working with the Biden Administration to fund programs that effectively secure the U.S.-Mexico border.”
The letter urges the incoming Administration to prioritize the following actions:
1) Rescind Proclamation 9844, President Trump’s presidential proclamation declaring a national emergency along the southern border. This proclamation allowed the current administration to reprogram congressionally appropriated funds from Defense and Military Construction accounts for a border wall.
2) Direct the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney General to dismiss all ongoing condemnation litigation, and related civil proceedings against private and public landowners. The Trump administration has utilized eminent domain, which refers to the government’s power to obtain property for a public use while compensating the property owner, for wall construction. As of July 2020, DHS acquired or is working to acquire 1,009 tracts in the Rio Grande Valley Sector or the Laredo Sector.
3) Terminate for convenience all current and pending U.S. Army Corps of Engineer (USACE) contracts involving the acquisition of private land for border wall construction along the southwest border. When creating procurement contracts, federal agencies will add clauses that grants them the right to terminate for convenience, or ending all or part of the work under a contract “when it is in the Government’s interest” to do so.
4) Prohibit the use of U.S. Department of Homeland Security to waiver authority relating to the construction of new border barriers and join us in seeking its repeal. The current administration waived numerous major environmental laws, including National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act, to build a wall and fencing along the border with Mexico.
Co-Signers (35): Reps. Henry Cuellar, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Ben Ray Luján, Joaquin Castro, Raúl Grijalva, Nydia M. Velázquez, Linda T. Sánchez, James P. McGovern, Barbara Lee, Veronica Escobar, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Sylvia Garcia, Pete Aguilar, Ruben Gallego, Vicente Gonzalez, Juan Vargas, Tony Cardeñas, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, Darren Soto, Adriano Espaillat, David Cicilline, Jimmy Panetta, J. Luis Correa, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Steve Cohen, Grace Meng, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Jan Schakowsky, Dina Titus, Albio Sires, Norma J. Torres, Ann Kirkpatrick, André Carson, Danny K. Davis.