North Dakota's two Republican senators have come out against President Joe Biden's decision to to end the state of emergency at the southern border and to divert funds from the construction of the border wall.
In the proclamation, issued Jan. 20, Biden expressed his commitment to securing the nation's borders and protecting the country from threats, as well as to creating a comprehensive and humane immigration system.
"But building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution," the proclamation reads. "It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security. "
The proclamation will essentially halt construction of the border wall. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency at the southern border in order to secure funding for the project on Feb. 15, 2019.
Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, both R-ND, voiced their opposition to the decision following the announcement.
“We need to secure our nation’s borders and properly enforce our immigration laws," Hoeven said in a statement. "The border wall, in addition to personnel and technology, serves as an important part of that effort and construction should continue."
Hoeven, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Committee, added that Congress provided more than $1.3 billion for wall construction in Fiscal Year 2021 to help add to the 452 miles of border wall that were completed during the Trump administration.
Though the border wall construction project is hundreds of miles away from North Dakota, the issues of security are important to many North Dakotans, Hoeven said in a statement emailed to the Herald.
"North Dakotans strongly support a secure border, which includes personnel, technology, enforcing our immigration laws and building this new, integrated wall system," he said. "Border security is essential for our nation, whether we are trying to address illegal immigration or prevent drug and human trafficking, which impacts communities across our nation, including in North Dakota."
In an emailed statement, Cramer emphasized his belief that securing the U.S. border should be one of the nation's highest priorities, but that he believes Biden has "apparently decided to stand down."
"Stopping construction does not stop the problem from existing," Cramer said in the statement. "That is neither good leadership nor sound policy. I urge the President to reconsider this poor decision and to work with Congress to properly equip our immigration law enforcement officers so they can protect our country and deter the free flow of illegal immigrants.”
According to the proclamation, the Biden administration will implement a plan over the next 60 days to cancel, modify or repurpose existing agreements with contractors working on the border wall.
Dickinson-based Fisher Sand and Gravel is one such contractor. In December 2019, Hoeven and Cramer announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Fisher Sand and Gravel a $400 million contract to design and build 31 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border near Yuma, Ariz.
Fisher Sand and Gravel CEO Tommy Fisher could not be reached on Monday, Jan. 25.