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In this file photo, James and Sara Biden arrive at the White House Oct. 13, 2011, to attend the State Dinner for South Korea. In this file photo, James and Sara Biden arrive at the White House Oct. 13, 2011, to attend the State Dinner for South Korea.

In this file photo, James and Sara Biden arrive at the White House Oct. 13, 2011, to attend the State Dinner for South Korea.

Noah Y. Kim
By Noah Y. Kim November 1, 2020

No, Joe Biden’s brother didn’t build the cages along the U.S.-Mexico border

If Your Time is short

• We could find no record of any U.S. government contract awarded to James Biden’s company. However, the company was once awarded a contract by the Iraqi government to build housing.

• The Customs and Border Protections commissioner under Obama told us that he had never heard of any construction deal at a border processing station involving James Biden. 

• A former CEO of James Biden’s parent company said that James Biden’s firm never received a U.S. government contract. ​

During the final 2020 presidential debate, President Donald Trump said that former Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama administration "built the cages" used to detain undocumented immigrants. 

The Obama administration did use chain-link fencing to hold immigrants at a border processing facility in McAllen, Texas. However, a TikTok post goes even further in an attempt to connect Biden to the cages along the border. 

"Who built the cages, Joe?" reads the caption. "Turns out, it was James Biden, Joe’s brother and they (the Bidens) made millions from it…. Proof inside."

But the post doesn’t offer any proof. Instead, it features a screenshot of a press release announcing James Biden’s hiring at HillStone International, a construction management firm. 

At no point does the press release discuss a project to build cages along the U.S.-Mexico border. There is no evidence that HillStone International was ever involved in a project along these lines. 

Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection during the Obama administration, told PolitiFact in an email that he had never heard anything about a relative of Biden’s being involved in a construction project in a border processing facility. 

We searched a database of government contracts for any contracts awarded to HillStone International from 2008-2016 and got no results. There is no reference to HillStone International in a list of the Department of Homeland Security’s "prime contractors." 

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David Richter, a Republican congressional candidate and former CEO of HillStone International’s parent company, told the New Jersey Globe that James Biden’s company only received a single government contract: a project to build houses in Iraq but which eventually fell through 

The contract was awarded by the Iraqi government, not the U.S. government. And in 2014, the HillStone Iraq deal fell through because of a lack of financing, and the company was forced to concede the contract from its backlog. 

Hillstone "never pursued any work with the U.S. government," Richter told the Globe. "It got one contract with a South Korean real estate developer to help build housing in Iraq that never moved forward because their company never got financing."

Our ruling

A TikTok post says, "Who built the cages, Joe? Turns out, it was James Biden, Joe’s brother and they (the Bidens) made millions from it…. Proof inside."

The Customs and Border Protections commissioner under Obama told us that he had never heard of any construction deal at the McAllen border processing station involving James Biden. A former CEO of Hill International said that HillStone International never received a U.S. government contract. 

We could find no record of any government contract awarded to James Biden’s company.

There is no evidence to support the claim. We rate it Pants on Fire! ​

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More by Noah Y. Kim

No, Joe Biden’s brother didn’t build the cages along the U.S.-Mexico border

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