US Customs and Border Protection Updates Border Wall Construction

Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Friday that 100 miles of border fence will be replaced with funding from the 2018 appropriations.

San Diego’s sector will receive 14 miles of fencing in two different areas or 28 miles. In Calexico, two miles of a 30-foot border wall will replace two miles of pedestrian barrier. Santa Teresa, New Mexico, will see 20 miles constructed in April while the Rio Grande Valley will receive 25 miles of levee wall and 8 of border wall.

There’s current structure at 654 miles but the agency would like to see a border wall or fence covering approximately 1,000 miles, the agency said.

Eight prototypes for a proposed border wall were constructed east of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in October. 

Each prototype stands approximately 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide. There are four prototypes made entirely of concrete and four from non-concrete materials.

A new design standard will be developed from the prototype project and will be implemented in future projects but not in the 2018 project, Acting Commissioner Ronald Vitiello said Friday.

Vitiello said they learned what it takes to breach the prototypes during the 30- to 60-day testing period.

“They were cut on, beat on and climbed on and dug into,” he said.

However, almost six months later, CBP officials have not released which prototype model will be used in a proposed border wall.

Vitiello said Friday that several different designs may be used at various points of the U.S.-Mexico border depending on the terrain and the security risk. 

When questioned about how much of the 100 miles of border fence would be considered new versus replacement of existing fence, Vitiello said there will be new wall in the Rio Grande Valley area but much of the 2018 projects will be replacement fence. 

When he visited the prototype site in March, President Donald Trump hinted that one key characteristic of a border wall would be transparency. 

The president has also brought up the potential that the U.S. military may be asked to cover the estimated $25 billion price tag. 

The Pentagon says Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has talked with the president about the possibility that the Defense Department could fund the long-promised border wall with Mexico.

Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Thursday that the two "talked about the proposal, potentially." But she said she didn't know when the conversation occurred.

Trump recently tweeted that building "a great Border Wall" is "all about National Defense" and he called to "Build WALL through M!" -- the military.

Throughout his campaign, the president vowed he would force Mexico to pay the cost of building a border wall. 

As for the 2018 projects, Vitiello said the San Diego wall will be replacing existing fencing. 

"In San Diego, we’re looking at 14 miles of new border wall, getting rid of old dilapidated landing mats in favor of a steel bollard wall. We’re also replacing 14 miles of secondary barrier inside of San Diego," he said.

The wall project along the southern border of Texas will include 35 new gates along a stretch of 55 miles of existing border wall.

The agency will also replace approximately 47 miles of border fencing with new border wall systems which will include cameras and other features. 

"We plan to build about 25 miles of new levee wall in Hidalgo County, as well as 8 miles of new border wall system in Star County Texas," Vitiello said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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