View of the Mexico-US wall border wall — AFP Photo
WASHINGTON — The US Defence Department said Tuesday it was freeing up US$3.6 billion in funds budgeted for other projects to build a wall on the Mexican border as ordered by President Donald Trump.
Six weeks after being confirmed by Congress, Defence Secretary Mike Esper has signed off on the diversion of funds from 127 "deferred military projects" both inside and outside the country, said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffmann.
In February, Trump, frustrated that Congress would not provide funding for the 18-foot (5.5-metre) barrier, declared a "national emergency" at the border in order to obtain $6.6 billion from other budgeted accounts for wall construction aimed at stemming the flow of undocumented migrants from Mexico and Central America.
That included an initial $2.5 billion from Pentagon spending that was to have been used for programs to combat the drug trade and other operations.
Multiple lawsuits against the wall led a federal judge to place an injunction blocking the funding until the cases could be reviewed.
But in a major political victory for the president, in July the Supreme Court overturned that ruling, allowing work to go ahead.
Since then, Pentagon funds have gone toward Department of Homeland Security projects to replace existing portions of wall along the 2,000 mile (3,200 kilometre) frontier, while no new wall has been erected.
In addition, the Defence Department has deployed thousands of uniformed troops to the Mexican border to help monitor security and provide backup logistics for hundreds of thousands of detained migrants. — AFP