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Schmitt sues Biden administration over border wall construction

Attorney General Eric Schmitt is suing the Biden administration for halting the construction of a wall along the country’s southern border despite having money earmarked for the project. 

Schmitt announced the lawsuit alongside Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from El Paso Thursday afternoon.

“Time and again, the Biden administration has refused to take concrete action to quell the worsening border crisis, inviting the cartels and human and drug smugglers to take advantage of our porous border,” Schmitt said in a statement. “Without a border wall, illegal immigrants, coyotes, and bad actors can simply march across our southern border and into the interior. The border wall needs to be built, the funds have been appropriated to continue to build the wall, and yet the Biden administration outright refuses to do so.” 

Attorney General Eric Schmitt joined Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to announce the lawsuit against the Biden administration in El Paso on Oct. 21, 2021.

“We are very discouraged by the lack of care by the president and the fact that he has done almost everything he can do to make it more difficult for our border towns and our border states,” Paxton said. “It’s a direct result of policies that they knew would do exactly what they’re doing.”

The president ended a Trump-era emergency order which directed money toward the construction of the border wall soon after taking office. His administration halted further building of the wall and terminated additional contracts

The lawsuit alleged the administration’s actions are unlawful because money for the wall had been appropriated for the specific purpose of constructing it. The pair said Congress appropriated nearly $1.4 billion for “construction of barrier system along the southwest border” in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 in addition to more funding in the FY 2021 DHS Appropriations Act. 

“The President had neither constitutional nor statutory authority to refuse to spend funds Congress authorized mandating the construction of the border wall, and thus DHS acted without any authority to implement the January 20 Procolomation, including cancelling contracts entered into for the purpose of building the border wall,” the lawsuit said. 

President Joe Biden has faced harsh criticism, particularly from Republicans, over the border crisis during his tenure. Arrests by Border Patrol agents have recently reached record high numbers, according to a report from the Washington Post

About 125 members of the Missouri National Guard were recently deployed to the border in the southwest part of the country to “provide mission enhancing support to [U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s] border security operations,” The Missouri Times was told earlier this week. 

In his Jan. 20 proclamation regarding the border wall, Biden called building such a barrier “not a serious policy solution.” 

“It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security,” the proclamation said. “My Administration is committed to ensuring that the United States has a comprehensive and humane immigration system that operates consistently with our Nation’s values.”  

Schmitt, who is running for U.S. Senate, has taken on the Biden administration in many areas, including on immigration. 

In another joint effort with Paxton, Schmitt sued the Biden administration in April in an effort to revive the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program which keeps individuals in Mexico as they await a hearing. In August, a federal judge sided with the attorneys general and ordered the federal government to reinstate the Trump-era program. 

“As Missouri continues to fight human trafficking, an unsecured border only worsens that scourge of human trafficking across the country and within Missouri’s borders,” Schmitt said Thursday. “Missouri stands ready to hand the Biden administration another loss. If Joe Biden continues to refuse to take the necessary steps to secure the border, Missouri will.” 

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