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Donald Trump's Border Wall Found Unlawful, Money Returned to States

Donald Trump's Border Wall Found Unlawful, Money Returned to States
Michael F. Hiatt / Shutterstock

The states where Donald Trump constructed his border wall have won their legal battle against the former president.

The states where Donald Trump constructed parts of his infamous border wall have won their legal battle against the former president's administration.

Led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, 18 states settled their lawsuit against the Trump Administration on Monday, with the now-residing Biden Administration agreeing to return the land used in the construction of the border wall, as well as the funds.

“The Trump Border Wall is officially a relic of the past, which is where it belongs,” Bonta said in a statement.

The California-led coalition of states sued the Trump Administration in 2019 and 2020, alleging that it was illegally diverting taxpayer funds to construct the border wall in areas of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. The United States Supreme Court allowed construction to continue in a 5-4 decision while the lawsuit moved forward.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, about 458 miles of border wall were built during Trump’s presidency. Almost half was built in Arizona, with another 100 miles constructed in New Mexico. In Texas, 55 miles were built, with 77 miles completed in California.

When President Joe Biden took office after the 2020 election, he immediately ordered a cease to construction of the border wall. The lawsuit from states was then return to lower courts to undergo litigation.

As part of the settlement, the Biden Administration agreed to cease using the disputed funds in construction of border barriers, and will work to remediate the environmental harm done to land during construction. This includes providing protection funding for thousands of acres of vital, endangered habitat in California.

The Biden Administration has also restored $427 million in funding for military construction projects in the states which brought the lawsuit. The Department of Homeland Security will also provide over $25 million to California to fund an environmental nonprofit's purchase of the land. Another $1.1 million from the DHS will go to programs protecting endangered species.

“With environmental mitigation projects coming online to protect our sensitive ecosystem along the U.S.-Mexico border and the confirmation of over $427 million in funding restored for military construction projects, today’s settlement ushers in a new beginning," Bonta continued. "I am grateful to the Biden Administration for working with us in good faith and making this announcement possible.”

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