The Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was in Imperial County Wednesday touring border fence construction in Calexico.
After Nielsen was briefed on the progress of the construction of replacement fencing in the border zone, she met with employees of her agency.
A 30-foot high wall consisting of metal posts will replace an area of the existing fence that covers approximately 2.25 miles, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The existing fence in that area was built in the 1990s and had been breached "several hundred times during the last two years," CBP officials said.
The area for the construction is west of the Calexico Port of Entry beyond a nearby outlet mall shopping center. Construction should be completed by October 2018.
Nielsen called the construction of the replacement fence as one of the highest priorities to improve border security in the region.
“We will work with the National Guard until we can look each other in the eyes and say we have operational control of the border,” Nielsen said. “We need additional funding. We need the wall system.”
CBP officials said the El Centro Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol is responsible for apprehending 18,633 undocumented immigrants in 2017.
Nielsen was in San Diego in March when President Donald Trump visited the prototypes for a proposed new border wall that were constructed in Otay Mesa, south of San Diego.