Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan “authorized the commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers to begin planning and executing up to $1 billion in support to the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol,” according to a statement by the US Department of Defense.
Trump had initially promised that Mexico would pay for his wall. When he failed to secure funding from Mexico, Trump turned to US Congress, which also refused. To bypass Congress, the US president last month declared a national emergency to corral funds allocated to other US organizations and funnel them to his wall project.
In so doing, Trump claimed that there was a “crisis” at the US’s southern border. Many US politicians have said the president is manufacturing a crisis merely to fund his wall.
The allocation by the Pentagon is the first fund that has been designated for the project since Trump declared the national emergency.
The Department of Defense sent the budget programming notification to Congress on Monday, drawing immediate objections from Democratic lawmakers.
“We strongly object to both the substance of the funding transfer, and to the Department implementing the transfer without seeking the approval of the congressional defense committees and in violation of provisions in the defense appropriation itself,” the senators wrote in a letter to Shanahan.
“As a result, we have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military,” they wrote.
Building the wall was one of Trump’s most frequently repeated campaign promises. More than three years into his term, the US president has failed to fulfill that promise.
He has vowed to crack down on illegal immigration in part by building the wall on the border with Mexico.