Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan lauded the Supreme Court decision allowing the administration to use military funds to build additional border wall.
“It was a big victory at the Supreme Court to allow Department of Defense to move forward with that $2.5 billion dollars to really accelerate the progress on the wall, and kind’ve double what we’re doing with the congressionally appropriated funding, which is going well,” McAleenan said Sunday on Fox Business.
“We’re up to 54 miles [of new border wall] since we talked — building every day down there on the border. That’s already providing significant new operational capability and helping us control high-traffic areas of the border,” he continued.
McAleenan’s comments came two days after the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration could reprogram $2.5 billion in Department of Defense funds for border wall construction. Because of the decision, President Donald Trump can move forward with plans to build 100 miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as it continues to fight challenges in the lower courts.
The White House in February declared a national emergency for the southern border, a move that allowed the administration to reallocate billions from the military. However, a coalition of environmentalist and progressive groups sued in an attempt to block construction. A 9th Circuit court panel in July sided with a federal judge’s decision to block the funds, putting up a roadblock to construction.
Friday’s Supreme Court decision fell along partisan lines, with the bench’s five conservative judges voting in favor of the Trump administration. The court’s liberal justices — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor — dissented, and Justice Stephen Breyer gave a partial dissent.
The acting DHS chief noted how much it costs the federal government to house and care for the tens of thousands of illegal aliens reaching the U.S. border every month.
“The $4.5 billion in the emergency supplemental that we had to ask for, and we got from Congress finally after two months — $3.3 billion, 75% of that, went to our partners at Health & Human Services simply for the care and custody of unaccompanied children for the remaining four months of the year,” McAleenan said of the immigration crisis.
“That’s how expensive this is to try to provide them proper care and just given the flow that we’re facing at the border, the number of people and the number of dollars it takes to provide medical, education, appropriate settings for kids,” he went on. “And that’s a kind of government cost alone that we’re facing.”
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