In Texas AG race, Bush lowballs cross miles of wall completed by Trump
George P. Bush: “We see an unfinished wall that was duly invested in dollars during Trump’s day to build over 700 miles. Only 150 miles have been built.
PolitiFact Note: False
Here’s why: Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush wants to continue a project left unfinished by former President Donald Trump.
As part of his recently launched attempt to topple Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the 2022 Republican primary, Bush plans to join other heads of state in completing the border wall using the resources of the state.
In a June 9 interview on Fox Business, Bush took a moment to criticize Vice President Kamala Harris and the Biden administration for their perceived inaction in response to the influx of migrants arriving at the southern border of the United States.
“There is absolutely no sense of urgency,” Bush told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo. “We see an unfinished wall that was duly invested in dollars during Trump’s day to build over 700 miles. Only 150 miles have been built.
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The continued construction of the border wall in Texas is emerging as a popular commitment among Texas Republican leaders and candidates as the Republican primary cycle begins. It is one of the campaign commitments of former Republican Senator Don Huffines in his campaign for the post of governor. And on Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced his office would continue building a state-owned border wall funded by $ 250 million from the state combined with private donations solicited online.
Trump has indeed failed to meet his initial goals regarding the border wall. His 2016 campaign initially promised 1,000 miles of barriers along the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border, but in 2017 that target rose to “from 700 to 900 miles.” In 2020, the goalposts have again increased to “about 537 miles in total”. And before Trump stepped down, he claimed to have “completed the wall” with about 450 miles of barriers built.
Is Bush downplaying the accomplishments of Trump’s border wall, or is Trump exaggerating the number of miles built during his tenure?
Count the miles from border walls
On January 8, in the final weeks of Trump’s tenure, US Customs and Border Protection issued a memo on the status of the border wall detailing the additions made between 2017 and 2020.
According to the memo, approximately 738 miles of barriers were planned. Of these, about 453 miles have been completed, and the remaining 285 miles were either under construction or in the pre-construction phase, which President Joe Biden ceased upon taking office. Only about 17 of those miles were built in Texas, all in the Rio Grande Valley area.
There are several ways to count the miles of border walls. US Customs and Border Protection divides wall barriers into several different categories. There are walls built in places where no barriers existed before, and walls built in place of dilapidated or outdated designs. There are barriers built as ‘primary walls’, which people crossing the border would encounter first, and barriers built as ‘secondary walls’, which extend behind the length of the main walls along certain sections. .
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Of the 453 miles completed, approximately 47 miles of primary walls and 33 miles of secondary walls have been built where no barriers previously existed. And 351 miles of primary walls and 22 miles of secondary walls have been built to replace dilapidated or outdated designs.
It is not known what mathematics Bush used to find that “only 150 miles were built”. His office referred all questions to his campaign, and a spokesperson for his campaign never answered questions asking for his calculation.
But by no permutation of these numbers, you can come up with a total of 150 miles. If we only look at the primary walls, a total of about 400 miles have been built. Fifty-five miles of side walls have been built. If we only look at the walls built where no barriers existed before, 80 miles of walls have been erected, while 373 miles have been built in place of dilapidated or obsolete structures.
Affected border wall funds
Further, Bush dubiously asserts that the construction of the wall was funded by “appropriately earmarked dollars during the Trump era.”
The Trump administration originally requested $ 13.3 billion until 2020 for the construction of walls, but Congress provided $ 4.47 billion through Department of Homeland Security credits, according to the Congressional Research Service. Of this total, approximately $ 1 billion was spent on barrier replacement projects, $ 1.4 billion was spent on planning, and $ 2 billion was spent on construction needs in the valley area. of the Rio Grande.
Funds allocated by Congress for the construction of walls are legally bound to be used for their proper purpose, regardless of the administration in place.
The only other money earmarked for the construction of the border wall was part of a $ 1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress in 2020. This bill included $ 900 billion for relief from COVID-19 and nearly $ 1.4 billion in funding for the wall. Biden has since suspended the flow of those funds for border wall construction projects.
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However, the main way the Trump administration funded the border wall project was to redirect dollars initially allocated by Congress to other government agencies for other purposes, according to the U.S. Customs and Protection memo. borders. Between 2017 and 2019, around $ 15 billion was redirected from three agencies to Trump’s proposed wall through a series of executive actions.
“As of January 2017, approximately $ 15 billion has been identified to build approximately 738 miles of new border wall system through a combination of funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Treasury Confiscation Fund (TFF), “the memo reads. “The funding received supports planning, design, real estate, environment, construction and monitoring activities. ”
On June 11, the Biden administration announced that it would use money allocated by Congress for Trump’s border wall projects to “address the urgent life, safety and environmental issues resulting from the construction of the border wall of the previous administration “.
These remediation projects include closing breaches in the Rio Grande Valley dike system, cleaning up soil in San Diego, and cleaning up border wall construction sites.
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It is not known how Bush concluded that “only 150 miles were built” of the border wall during the Trump administration. However, US Customs and Border Protection data shows this to be an undercoverage. Approximately 453 miles of primary and secondary border walls were completed between 2017 and 2020.
Bush’s claim that Congress appropriated money to build over 700 miles of barriers also misses the mark. Although Congress allocated money – $ 5.9 billion – for the border wall project during Trump’s tenure, most of the construction was funded using $ 15 billion reallocated to d ‘other purposes.
We assess this claim as false.
- Fox Business, Texas Land Commissioner in his race to overthrow AG Ken Paxton, June 9, 2021
- KVUE-TV, LIVE: Governor Greg Abbott holds border wall press conference, June 16, 2021
- Austin American-Statesman, Governor Greg Abbott: Texas to build border wall amid “unprecedented crisis” June 10, 2021
- Factbase, Interview: Press Gaggle With Donald Trump aboard Air Force One, July 12, 2017
- Factbase, Interview: Sean Hannity interviews Donald Trump live by phone, July 23, 2020
- Trump White House, remarks by President Trump ahead of Marine One’s departure, January 12, 2021
- PolitiFact, The border fence was not 90% complete when Biden stopped construction, March 29, 2021
- US Customs and Border Protection, Border Wall Status, January 8, 2021
- USA Today, here’s the progress of the construction of the US-Mexico border wall as Trump ends his presidency, January 12, 2021
- US Customs and Border Protection, Border Wall System, accessed June 16, 2021
- Congressional Research Service, Financing the Construction of the US-Mexico Border Barrier: Current Issues, April 7, 2021
- The Hill and Congress to approve $ 1.375 billion for border wall in 2021, December 20, 2020
- CBS News Biden Border Wall Funding Freeze Legal, Congressional Investigators Rule June 15, 2021
- White House FACT SHEET: Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security plans for border wall funds, June 11, 2021
- US Department of Homeland Security, DHS Releases Plan to Use Border Barrier Funds, June 11, 2021