COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz.—Millions of dollars of unfinished border wall materials have lain in the deserts of Arizona since January 2021, after President Joe Biden halted all construction on the wall on the day he took office.
“It shall be the policy of my administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall,” Biden’s Jan. 20, 2021, executive order reads. “I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall.”
Construction companies downed tools and left job sites the next day, and stacks of materials have languished since. Now, they’re looking to sell it all for scrap, according to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).
“They’re probably going to get a penny on the dollar for it,” CCSO Sgt. Tim Williams said.
The steel bollards on fence panels are filled with concrete. Concrete culverts are sitting abandoned, filling with mud, instead of being used for the flood-prone portions of the roadway next to the fence.
But the unfinished lighting, ground sensors, and cameras are one of the biggest issues, according to Williams.
“Without the fiber optics and the lighting system, they’ll just climb the fence and get over. It was supposed to be a four-tier approach,” he said.
Border Patrol agents could be nearby, but without the cameras and sensors, they won’t know that a breach is occurring. Under the cover of night, people on the Mexican side of the fence take to cutting a footer out, just wide enough for people to squeeze through. Each day, agents patch the holes and replace the concrete.
But with lighting and sensors it wouldn’t happen, according to Williams.
“The big problem is that the fiber optics are in the ground already, and if they don’t turn it on in the next two months, the fiber optics will go dormant and we won’t get them back,” he said. “So all those billions of dollars of fiber optics in the ground because there was only 24 months shelf life they can be dormant and we’re at 22 months right now—we’re talking about losing billions of dollars because they didn’t turn the system on.”
A Customs and Border Protection official told The Epoch Times that he expects it to “take a while” to resolve what will happen with the unused border materials. On Dec. 4, 2021, the agency put out a request for comment “on proposed border barrier construction remediation actions,” which expires on Feb. 3.
A report by Senate Republicans issued in July 2021 states that the construction stoppage is costing taxpayers $3 million per day.