Border wall workers newly furloughed by President Joe Biden after he signed an executive order last week halting construction of the barrier lashed out at the administration for putting them out of work as unemployment remains high during the lingering coronavirus pandemic.
In interviews with Townhall’s Julio Rosas, workers expressed angst and frustration and unloaded on Biden who, some said, acts as if he couldn’t care less about their fate.
“I’m not going to get in trouble am I? Oh wait, it’s my last day…so what are they going to do, fire me?” one worker mockingly said to Rojas, who traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border last week to gauge reaction to Biden’s order.
Biden’s decision makes good on a campaign pledge to halt border wall construction which was begun by his predecessor, former President Donald Trump. As noted by Rojas, much of the construction replaced old, dilapidated barriers that served no deterrent purpose whatsoever as well as whole sections of brand-new barriers.
Rojas said when he arrived, work crews were scrambling to shut down the project and bring equipment including excavators and bulldozers out of the area as soon as possible. He said workers told him the section he visited was only two months away from being completed but has now been idled “with the quick signing of a pen.”
“The immediate effects of Biden’s executive order were the loss of jobs for the crew, similar to the workers of the Keystone Pipeline who were affected by a different Biden executive order,” writes Rojas.
He said at one point the man driving him on a tour of the area wisecracked that Biden may soon go after his 401(k) retirement account.
When Rojas asked him about future plans, his driver responded: “Go find something up north by the union or something.”
He then asked how other members of his approximately 20-person work crew were feeling about being thrown out of work by the president.
“F**ked, to be honest with you. A lot of these guys, they don’t have nothing” because the wall project offered them the only decent employment opportunity during a period of high unemployment and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of people don’t know what else they’re going to do,” the driver added.
“If you want my personal opinion, [the border wall] was actually a good thing,” the driver continued. “You talk to a lot of locals in town and everything and they were appreciative of what we were doing.”
He then said: “We feel like our country really don’t give a s**t about us.”
The driver said illegal border crossings had declined significantly in regions where the new bollard-style wall was installed, but now they will ramp up again as construction halts, leaving gaping holes along the border.
Department of Homeland Security officials have noted that former President Trump’s border policies, to include stricter enforcement, deals with Central American nations, and the wall, all cut illegal immigration by nearly three-quarters in 2019.
“This Administration has implemented critical policies and reached important agreements with our partners in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala that have resulted in the fifth consecutive month of reduced apprehensions on the Southwest border,” then-acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said in November of that year, citing a 73-percent drop in apprehensions.
As for the wall, not everyone Rojas spoke with approved of building it.
“I’m taking a wait and see approach…if they did need the security system, and that’s what we were installing, was the security for it, and hopefully, they’ll continue with that. But if not, the wall, in my opinion, shouldn’t have been built in the first place,” said Charles Grube, business manager and financial secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 570.