The halt to build new border wall systems ordered by President Joe Biden will mean the loss of some 5,000 construction jobs, according to the most recent former chief operating officer and former acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“Conservatively, it’s going to cost about 5,000 jobs—construction workers—right now,” Mark A. Morgan told Breitbart News. “It’s gonna cost them their livelihood.”
Biden, just hours after his inauguration as the 46th U.S. president on Jan. 20, signed an executive order to terminate the emergency declaration on the southern border and halt border wall construction. Former President Donald Trump had previously extended the emergency declaration on the border until February 2022.
“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,” the order reads.
Congress had recently appropriated $1.4 billion for border wall construction in the 2021 National Defense Authorization package.
Morgan told Breitbart that those in the steel, concrete, and technology industries who supply the materials for the border walls will also be affected.
“Now, keep in mind, they’re going to be paid for what they produced so far,” he said when referring to union members in the steel industry that produce the bollards. “But for the 350 miles that Congress funded for construction … the money they are counting on to feed their families and pay their mortgage, all that goes out the window.”
He said that there are about 270,000 tons of steel bollard fencing that have already been produced but not assembled.
“Think about that. We are not only going to have to pay the contractors for that, but then we’re gonna have to pay the additional money to either destroy it, which is unconscionable, or store it,” he spoke of the costs, adding that there are other partially completed areas that will have to cost to undo, such as paying the contractor to pull out pieces of rebar previously laid.
“Conservatively we’re looking at costing taxpayers billions of dollars,” he told the outlet.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s pick to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said he hasn’t looked at what he’d do with the current border wall, including the possibility of removing portions of it.
“I look forward to studying that question, understand the costs and benefits of doing so,” he told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs during his confirmation hearing on Jan. 19.
More than 450 miles of border fencing were constructed along the U.S.–Mexico border during the Trump administration. Much of the construction replaced old or ineffective barriers. The National Border Patrol Council, which endorsed Trump for president, previously said that border fencing is essential to slow illegal crossings and keep agents safe.
The White House announced on Jan. 23 that Biden’s plan included “increasing resettlement capacity and lawful alternative immigration pathways,” as well as improved processing at the border for immigrants claiming asylum.
Biden has brought other immigration changes to the White House, including suspending the “remain in Mexico” program for asylum seekers, revoking a travel ban on terror-prone countries, continuing the DACA program, and suspending deportations for illegal aliens for 100 days.
Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.