The Biden administration has been secretively selling the parts necessary to complete the border wall, with most of the materials originating around Red Rock, Arizona.
As reported first by Power Corridor (part of The Daily Upside), the Pentagon told the auction site GovPlanet to “aggressively market” about 12,000 border wall items without disclosing their origins with former President Donald Trump and their original purpose: to complete the southern border wall.
Instead, the Pentagon instructed the auctioneer to obscure their activity from the public by using vague language when describing the border wall materials: “steel tubing and sticks for industrial construction.” GovPlanet later deleted an Instagram reel advertising the border wall materials after social media users recognized the listing for what it was, though the auction site listing remains.
Power Corridor also reported that the Pentagon has never passed an audit, most recently unable to account for 61 percent, or $2.135 billion, of its $3.5 trillion in assets.
The administration auctioned off 81 lots of steel border wall bollard panels for $2 million. These sales date back to April. This week, the government received $154,200 for 729 bollard panels. Another 13 will be auctioned off on Wednesday and Friday. The Pentagon takes the profits.
The administration continues to sell off the critical border security components despite Congress’ apparent desire to complete the border wall.
Last month, the Democrat-led Senate approved the Republican-led “Finish It Act” as part of its annual defense appropriations package. The Finish It Act was introduced independently in May by Republican Sens. Roger Wicker (MS), Ted Cruz (TX), and Joni Ernst (IA) before being folded into defense appropriations. The act would require the Department of Defense (DOD) to either use the unused border security materials to complete the border wall itself, or give the materials to the states so that they may finish the wall.
According to GovPlanet data, the auction of the border wall materials picked up twice: first following the introduction of the Finish It Act, and second following the passage of the defense appropriations act.
It appears that the Biden administration is attempting to get ahead of the anticipated House approval of the Senate’s defense appropriations package. While the president was criticizing Republicans publicly for cutting back on spending and, effectively, reducing the number of Border Patrol agents, his administration was busy getting rid of the infrastructure necessary for agents to ensure border security.
Wicker introduced the Finish It Act approximately two months after asking the Biden administration to transfer the unused border wall materials to the southern states, citing the expense of $330 million to store and maintain the unused panels. The DOD gave over 1,700 unused bollard panels to Texas last February.
The current rate of illegal immigrant crossings along the southwest border is on pace to overshadow the total for the 2022 fiscal year of 2.4 million. This time last year, there were over 1.94 million encounters. As of July, there were over 1.97 million encounters.
Since Biden took office, there have been over 5.8 million illegal immigrant encounters at the southern border.
On Tuesday, Arizona finished the border wall gaps in Yuma. The state began closing the wall 11 days ago, on Friday, August 13.
Governor Doug Ducey celebrated the state’s rapid securement of the border the following day, the conclusion of an executive order which he dubbed the “Border Barrier Mission.”
“We did it,” wrote Ducey. “Yuma is safer today.”
In a press release, Ducey declared that his action didn’t mean the federal government was off the hook for border security. Ducey insinuated that Arizona’s quick action proved that the Biden administration didn’t really want the border closed.
“In just 11 days, Arizona did the job the federal government has failed to do — and we showed them just how quickly and efficiently the border can be made more secure – if you want to,” declared Ducey.
The state closed five gaps amounting to over 3,800 feet in the border wall. Securing the wall took 130 shipping containers and 48 workers, coming in at a cost of over $6 million. By comparison, the Biden administration spent an estimated $3 million every day — around $2 billion total — to not complete the border wall, per President Joe Biden’s proclamation.
The governor’s office secured the funding through border security legislation passed in the most recent legislative session: HB2317 from State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) codified June 30.
Ducey relayed that the Biden administration promised Arizona last December that it would close the Yuma border wall gaps. No construction has taken place. Ducey noted that Yuma communities and their resources, such as nonprofits, food banks, and shelters, were overburdened by the illegal immigrant crisis. The area’s agriculture, the lifeblood of their economy, also suffered due to the travel of illegal immigrants.
In the press release, Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls expressed gratitude for Ducey’s action.
“Every day hundreds of people come across the border into the Yuma area,” said Nicholls. “By closing the border wall gaps, Governor Ducey is helping to protect our city from the dangerous drugs and bad actors that come through on a daily basis. Yuma is grateful for the effective process of getting these containers in place quickly and secured. Governor Ducey showed the nation how to secure the border and keep illegal activity at the border at bay.”
Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines also commended Ducey and excoriated the Biden administration for its inaction.
“The open border left behind by the Biden administration has left Yuma County residents exhausted and our resources depleted,” said Lines. “We’re tired of the lethal drugs and human smuggling entering our county. These containers are making a huge difference and will disrupt the cartels’ trafficking operations. Thank you, Governor Ducey, for prioritizing our county and protecting our families.”
On Monday, Governor Doug Ducey announced that the border wall gap near Yuma, Arizona was closed. That section of the wall resembles more of a wall than the border fencing elsewhere: rather than slats, the state installed double-stacked cargo shipping containers welded together and lined at the top with razor wire standing 4 feet tall.
Each double-stacked shipping container block weighs 17,600 pounds and stands 44 feet tall without the razor wire. The new Yuma border wall section spans 1,000 feet. The state plans on filling three gaps totaling 3,000 feet in the coming weeks.
As AZ Free News reported, Ducey signed an Executive Order on Friday to finish the border wall. Ducey’s action occurred several hours before the U.S. Consulate issued a “shelter in place” advisory for Americans residing in Tijuana, Mexico. On Thursday, at least 11 people were killed amid a fight between factions of the Sinaloa Cartel.
The Friday advisory followed another, similar advisory from several days prior, marking another week of cartel violence in Mexico.
In his original announcement, Ducey declared that the Biden administration’s lack of urgency was a “dereliction of duty.”
Ducey said that the Tijuana violence prompted the immediate action to finish the border wall.
Ducey’s action far outpaced that of the Biden administration.
At the end of last month, the White House promised to finish the border wall. However, agency rules concerning environmentalism protocols, or “environmental stewardship reviews,” will likely delay that project by well over a year.
That could prove to be a snag for Ducey, who undertook construction without federal permission.
Earlier this month, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) data revealed that hard drugs topped marijuana for drug busts along the border for the first time ever.
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels shared with radio host James T. Harris of “Conservative Circus” that the fentanyl crisis is a direct result of Biden’s border crisis. Dannels said that Arizona had over 5 million fentanyl dosage seizures in 2021, beating out all other states including California.
“They know exactly what’s going on. These are intelligent people. They just don’t care. This is intellectual avoidance at its worst. It’s almost like ‘American Second’ on our southern borders,” said Dannels.
Dannels added that the county has taken back some control, noting that the county jailed 617 individuals associated with border crimes from January to July. Dannels noted that so far, they’ve handled nearly 300 recognized victims of border-related crimes.
Dannels also lamented the number of illegal immigrant deaths that occurred. Since January, 126 illegal immigrants have died attempting to cross the border.
In similar remarks, Ducey blamed the Biden administration for giving cartels more power.
The governor’s remarks were part of a series of statements deriding the Biden administration for its inaction. Ducey declared that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has a “defeatist attitude” that worsens the border crisis.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed an Executive Order on Friday for the immediate fortification of a gap in the U.S. – Mexico border in Yuma, just hours before a U.S. Consulate issued a “shelter in place” advisory for Americans living and working in Tijuana south of the border from San Diego.
“For the last two years, Arizona has made every attempt to work with Washington to address the crisis on our border,” Ducey said. “Time and time again we’ve stepped in to clean up their mess. Arizonans can’t wait any longer for the federal government to deliver on their delayed promises.”
The executive order was issued by Ducey a mere two weeks after the White House announced it would address the unsecured border in Yuma once various reviews and studies were completed. However, there was no estimate provided as to when that may be.
Ducey’s decision to authorize immediate placement of 60 double-stacked, state-owned shipping containers to fill in a 1,000-foot gap long complained about by law enforcement officials will increase national security by ensuring border security, according to Jonathan Lines, Yuma County Supervisor.
“Border communities like Yuma bear the burden of a broken border while narcotics poison our youth, human smuggling rises and mass amounts of migrants wear on our nonprofits,” said Lines, adding that Ducey was coordinating with state and local resources “to do what the federal government won’t: secure the border.”
The project overseen by state contractor Ashbritt will utilize a 25-person team of heavy equipment operators and support personnel to link together and weld shut the containers, each of which weigh more than four tons. When completed on Monday, the new barrier wall will reach about 22 feet and be topped with concertina wire.
The move to close the large gap in Yuma also came just days after President Joe Biden lifted the Remain in Mexico immigration policy which has been providing one of the few immigration controls at the border.
The U.S. Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector under the leadership of Chief Patrol Agent Chris Clum experienced more than 235,000 migrant encounters from Oct. 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. The governor’s office called it “an ominous acceleration” for the Yuma Sector, which had the highest annual increase in encounters of all USBP sectors for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2021.
Nonprofits and shelters in Yuma County set up to assist migrants have been operating for months at overcapacity. In addition, law enforcement, first responders, and local medical facilities have been overwhelmed by the influx, which includes extremely high quantities of fentanyl coming across the border Arizona lawmakers made a $335 million investment in the Arizona Border Security Fund to construct and maintain a border fence, of which $6 million will be used put the new barrier in place in Yuma.
“Republicans in the Legislature made border security a priority in this year’s budget, and I’m thankful to Governor Ducey for wasting no time in putting those funds to good use,” said Rep. Ben Toma. “Improvements to the border wall will make our communities safer by combating human trafficking and stemming the flow of fentanyl into the state.”
Just hours after Ducey signed Executive Order 2022-04 on Friday, the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, Mexico warned of cartel violence in several Mexican cities along the border with California, including Tijuana, Mexicali, Tecate, Rosarito, and Ensenada.
The Consulate warning called on U.S. citizens already in those areas to seek secure shelter and remain aware of their surroundings. The warning also advised Americans on the Mexico side of the border to monitor local media for updates and “notify friends and family of your safety.”
The violence, which is due to internal strife within the Sinaloa Cartel as well as pressure from other cartels, is not limited to border communities near California.
Last Thursday, several killings occurred in Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.5 million across the border from El Paso. The violence started with a deadly fight at a Mexican prison between factions of the Sinaloa Cartel. Within hours, several fires and frequent gunfire was reported throughout Ciudad Juarez, often targeting non-cartel interests.
A statement by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday confirmed that “innocent civilians were attacked as a kind of retaliation” in connection with the prison fight.
On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would close preexisting border wall gaps, but only after ensuring environmental stewardship. This is continuation of a departmental practice dating back well over a decade, one DHS hasn’t expedited or circumvented despite the ongoing border crisis. If DHS maintains similar pace from recent environmental stewardship reviews, it may be well over a year before these gaps are addressed.
The four gaps addressed will be along the incomplete border section in Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector.
The environmental stewardship in question has been a DHS goal since 2008, when Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) introduced an Environmental Stewardship Plan (ESP) and a Biological Resources Plan (BRP) to analyze the potential environmental impacts of border security construction, or tactical infrastructure (TI). Present protocol requires the development of an ESP before commencing the project. One of the latest ESPs was issued in November 2020 for construction announced in May 2019.
Included within an ESP are recommended construction practices to mitigate potential environmental impacts, or Best Management Practices (BMP) and Conservation Measures (CM).
Past DHS reports on environmental stewardship ultimately concluded that the positives of a border wall preventing foot traffic from illegal crossings, thereby preserving natural habitats and species, outlasted the negatives of construction.
Aspects of an ESP include factoring the biological and geographical conditions of the area, such as the vegetation and wildlife that would be impacted by construction efforts. Environmental stewardship also factors in cultural resources such as archaeological discoveries. (If artifacts are discovered, all work halts until an archaeologist clears officials to resume work).
The November 2020 ESP concerned 15 miles of fence replacement along the California border considered air quality; noise; land use, recreation, and aesthetics; geological resources and soils; groundwater; surface waters and other bodies of water; floodplains; vegetation; wildlife and aquatic resources; protected species and critical habitat; cultural resources; socioeconomics; and hazardous materials and waste.
Some of the ESP’s recommended BMP and CM included: wetting the soil to suppress dust, capping speed limits at 25 mph on unpaved roads, muffling equipment like generators, migratory bird surveillance and relocation, and cleaning of construction equipment (to prevent spread of non-native species).
Following completion of the border construction, DHS issues an Environmental Stewardship Summary Report (ESSR).
Another impediment for immediate border wall gap sealing comes from DHS obligations to engage with stakeholders.
Funding for the border wall gap closures will come from DHS fiscal year 2021 appropriations.