Homeland Security ending Trump-era border wall contracts in Texas on Friday, Rep. Cuellar says

click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar speaks during a Friday appearance in San Antonio. - SANFORD NOWLIN
Sanford Nowlin
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar speaks during a Friday appearance in San Antonio.
Note: This story has been updated with new information about the dollar values of the cancelled contracts.

The Biden Administration is nullifying construction contracts for former President Donald Trump's border wall in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo, according to U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar.

During an appearance in San Antonio, the Laredo Democrat said the Department of Homeland Security on Friday will pull the plug on work authorized by the prior administration. Federal contracts on roads, lighting, cameras and other enforcement technology along the border will continue, he added.

"I fought the wall because I don't think it's the most efficient way of securing our border," Cuellar said.

The cancelled projects include 44 miles of wall with a combined price tag of $765 million, according to a release later shared by Cuellar's office.

DHS was unavailable for comment Friday.

Critics have lambasted the Biden administration for not immediately ending construction of the wall, a centerpiece of Trump's presidency that human rights and environmental groups blasted as wasteful, divisive and ecologically damaging.

Cuellar acknowledged that Republicans would seize on the contract terminations as a sign the new White House favors open borders. However, he said Trump's wall was an outmoded and unnecessary investment.

"[Republicans] are going to turn it political, but the reality is protecting our borders is about technology, personnel and doing our jobs," he said.

A frequent critic of Trump's hardline border policies, Cuellar has also urged President Joe Biden to step up enforcement to avoid waves of migration from people who don't qualify for asylum under U.S. law.

While spending on non-wall DHS projects will continue, Cuellar said those contracts will now require environmental review under changes being announced Friday. The Trump administration drew widespread condemnation for waiving environmental review of the $15 billion it undertook in wall construction.

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