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Federal court blocks Biden admin from diverting funds from border wall

A federal judge has blocked the Biden administration from diverting money away from border construction projects, a move originating in a Jan 20 Biden proclamation.

A federal court on Friday temporarily blocked the Biden administration from diverting $1.4 billion in funding appropriated by Congress away from border wall construction, one of a number of legal battles between Texas and the federal government.

The ruling stems from a January 2021 proclamation by President Joe Biden that terminated the Trump-era national emergency at the southern border, and ordered a pause on the construction of the border wall. The funds obligated to go to border wall funding in fiscal 2020 and 2021 appropriations were put on pause while agencies reviewed the matter.

"It shall be the policy of my administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall. I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall," Biden said.

MAYORKAS CITES ‘IMMEDIATE NEED’ TO WAIVE REGULATIONS, BUILD BORDER WALL IN TEXAS AS IMMIGRATION SURGES

In June of the same year, the Department of Homeland Security issued a plan canceling most border wall projects and would in 2022 amend the same plan to include remediation and the addition of barrier system upgrades such as lighting, cameras and detection.

Missouri and Texas sued, arguing that the reappropriation of funding was illegal and violated the separation of powers, also arguing also that the states will be harmed by more illegal immigration into their states and leading to more costs to them. Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush also sued, and the two lawsuits eventually consolidated.

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DHS argued that Texas had not established that the failure to build more wall would result in more illegal immigration, claiming that migration increases can be caused by social, economic and political factors."

U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton, a Trump appointee who had found in favor of the Biden administration in a separate case, ruled in favor of Texas and Missouri and put a temporary injunction on the redirecting of funds.

"Texas has shown injury-in-fact through costs that it has incurred in administering driver’s licenses, education, and healthcare to a rising number of illegal aliens," he wrote in his ruling. "Traceability is met because Texas has sufficiently demonstrated that the failure to build more physical barriers will reduce the number of apprehensions that otherwise would have occurred. And finally, this controversy is redressable because it is likely that a favorable judicial decision would reduce the financial harms that Texas otherwise would incur." 

In a statement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accused Biden of acting improperly "by refusing to spend the money that Congress appropriated for border wall construction, and even attempting to redirect those funds."

"His actions demonstrate his desperation for open borders at any cost, but Texas has prevailed," he said. Fox reached out to DHS and the White House for comment.

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The administration has consistently said it disapproves of border wall construction, although it has engaged in a number of wall-related projects. In October, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas waived regulations in order to go ahead with projects appropriated in FY 19 funding.

"We have repeatedly asked Congress to rescind this money, but it has not done so and we are compelled to follow the law," Mayorkas said.

"This Administration believes that effective border security requires a smarter and more comprehensive approach, including state-of the-art border surveillance technology and modernized ports of entry. We need Congress to give us the funds to implement these proven tools."

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