Border wall construction is cancelled, according to a news release sent by the Department of Defense on Friday.
The announcement came more than three months after President Biden took office with the promise that “there will not be another foot” of wall built under his administration, and ordered a 60-day “pause” in wall construction to consider what to do about ongoing projects.
“Consistent with the President’s proclamation, the Department of Defense is proceeding with canceling all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for other military missions and functions," Jamal Brown, a Pentagon spokesman, said in the release.
It wasn’t clear if Friday’s announcement means that half-finished wall projects in the local area, both east and west of Nogales, will simply be abandoned as-is.
The Department of Homeland Security said in its own news release that it would take steps to protect border communities from physical dangers resulting from border wall construction, including remediating “dangerous” soil erosion in San Diego and repairing the Rio Grande Valley’s flood barrier system.
The DHS announcement didn’t mention any areas of Arizona, but said the department “will soon complete a plan that identifies additional measures to address the damage resulting from the prior Administration’s border wall construction.”
A number of wall construction projects were initiated under the Trump Administration, drawing from different funding sources. The work in Santa Cruz County was part of the Tucson 10/28 project, which paid for by diverted military funds.
"I welcome this step by (Biden's) Administration to begin repairing the damage caused by border wall construction,” U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Tucson democrat whose district includes Santa Cruz County, said in a statement after the Friday announcement.
“The border wall has done nothing but militarize border communities, destroy precious environmental habitats, and desecrate Native American sacred sites. After such abuses of power, cancelling the contracts and repairing the environmental damage is the least we can do," Grijalva said.
When construction work came to an abrupt halt in January, crews left local projects in varying stages of completion. In several locations, there are still large gaps in uncompleted sections of new fencing. In other places, contractors dug a several-feet-deep trench for the bollard panels, but didn't get to actually installing the new fencing.
Along a new stretch of wall south of Peña Blanca Lake, some panels were painted black, but the paint job apparently wasn't finished before work was called off on Jan. 21.
At multiple construction sites within the county, heavy machinery and construction materials have sat idle for weeks, with the project in limbo.
A spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was overseeing the work in Santa Cruz County, directed questions to a Department of Defense spokesperson. The DoD spokesperson didn't immediately return calls or emails asking what the latest announcement meant for the local area, including whether contractors would do any work on their way out, such as cleanup or filling in gaps in the wall.