Biden Presses Pause on Trump's Border Wall as Vast Swathes Left Unfinished

President Joe Biden paused construction of the border wall on Wednesday night as more than 200 miles of federally-funded sections of the barrier remained incomplete or in the pre-construction phase, according to the latest official figures.

Delivering on a campaign promise, Biden issued a proclamation ordering that construction of President Donald Trump's border wall be stopped, labeling the project a "waste of money" and a poor policy solution.

The newly-inaugurated president also ordered officials to probe the legality of the funding for the border wall, and what would result if the administration were to end construction of the barrier altogether.

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

Border Wall Construction
A caterpillar parks between fences at a reinforced section of the US-Mexico border fencing eastern Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico on January 20, 2021. Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images

Under the terms of the order, construction projects along the southern border wall must be brought to a halt in no more than seven days' time. Administration officials in the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security have also been tasked with developing a plan for border wall funds to be redirected.

However, the president's team have also been told to consider how they could "repurpose" contracts for constructors working on the border wall, while also using funds provided by Congress with their intended purpose in mind.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) contractors have so far completed 452 miles of the border wall initiated by Trump, the agency's latest figures show. The bulk of border wall construction has simply involved replacing previous barriers, while around 80 miles of brand new primary and secondary sections of wall have been constructed.

The Department for Homeland Security said in late October that 738 miles of border wall had been funded. That could means as much as 286 miles of border wall is still under construction or in the pre-construction phase.

The Washington Post reported that the Biden administration could be obligated to complete as much as 227 miles of further border wall construction funded by Congress since 2018.

Newsweek has contacted the CBP for comment and further details on how much federally-funded border wall is yet to be constructed. This article will be updated with any response.

Reacting to Biden's hasty move to block further construction of the southern border wall, the Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said the country welcomed the move to end construction of the barrier between the neighbors.

"Mexico welcomes the end of the construction of the wall, the immigration initiative in favor of DACA and a path towards dual citizenship," he tweeted. "As the [President Lopez Obrador] wrote a few years ago to the now President Joe Biden, bridges open the way to cooperation and understanding."

Former President Trump repeatedly promised to make Mexico pay for the construction of the border wall during the 2016 election campaign cycle. Mexico never paid for the barrier.