The Trump administration will reroute another $3.8 billion in Pentagon funds toward the construction of barriers at the southern border, the administration informed Congress in a notice on Thursday.
“DHS has identified areas along the southern border of the United States that are being used by individuals, groups, and transnational criminal organizations as drug smuggling corridors, and determined that the construction of additional physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the United States border is necessary in order to impede and deny drug smuggling activities,” the administration said in the notice to lawmakers.
The latest transfer will bring the total of funds earmarked for the border wall up to more than $18 billion, which the administration says will pay for the construction of a cement wall or other structure along more than half of the 2,000-mile border with Mexico by 2027.
The money will come from funds that were intended to pay for Army vehicles, Navy ships, Navy and Air Force aircraft including F-35s, equipment for the National Guard, and an emergency fund set up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
House Democrats criticized the transfer as a “vanity project” and accused Republicans of enabling the administration’s “raiding” of defense accounts.
“Until they stand up to President Trump, our national security will continue to be threatened and our Constitutional system of government will continue to be undermined,” read a statement from House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey and Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Pete Visclosky, both Democrats.
The administration has already siphoned $6.7 billion from other government departments for barrier construction and plans to move a total of $7.2 billion this fiscal year from other parts of the government to the Department of Homeland Security for building barriers. Meanwhile, Congress has approved about $4.2 billion for the border wall over the last three years.
Customs and Border Protection has said its intention is to complete or start 450 miles of wall by the end of the year.