President Trump has upheld his end of the bargain. Now, it is up to Republicans in Congress to keep their promises.
President Trump announced that construction of a wall on the US Southern Border is underway as construction crews erect a series of prototype walls. “BORDER WALL prototypes underway!” President Trump tweeted. Attached, was a short video showcasing a handful of the prototypes.
BORDER WALL prototypes underway! pic.twitter.com/arFNO80zmO
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2017
On September 26, President Trump awarded 8 contracts to 6 construction firms to begin production of prototype walls. Each firm was offered a small section of land feet from the US southern border near Tijuana, Mexico, in San Diego, California. The contractors were granted 30 days to complete construction of their prototypes, according to Arizona Central.
Earlier this week, US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) offered reporters the opportunity to visit the border site and inspect the progress on the prototypes. Of the eight walls being constructed, five have already been completed and have been sectioned off with yellow caution tape.
Four of the prototype walls are constructed out of reinforced concrete, while the remaining designs incorporate alternative materials, such as steel bars, into their design.
The prototype walls must be at least 30-feet-tall to send a message to would-be criminals. President Trump plans to construct a wall that is “impenetrable” and “unscalable,” according to chief patrol agent of the San Diego border sector, Roy Villarreal. “They can’t dig under it. They can’t cut through it,” he said, as reported by The Washington Post.
The 30-foot-tall prototype walls look menacing and dwarf the border fence that currently sections off the United States from Tijuana. These existing fences sit around 16-feet tall and were constructed in the 1990s out of recycled landing pads for Vietnam-war era helicopters.
According to border agents working in the San Diego border sector, the existing fence was “compromised” at least 550 times in the last fiscal year. Illegal immigrants were able to cut holes in the fence with axes, blowtorches, or motorized saws.
Chief patrol agent Villareal claims that his agents apprehend between 70 to 100 illegal immigrants making the journey to San Diego each day. He says he hopes improved border security will cut down on the illegal crossings.
While most of the border wall feature reinforced concrete as the primary construction material, the designs vary as the competing firms look for innovations to pass the round of tests planned by the Trump administration. Customs & Border Protection says they are open to using elements from various designs to meet the different needs for walling off the over 2,000 miles of border between the United States and Mexico.
One of the walls built by a Maryland-based firm features a wide-concrete base tapering off for the top two-thirds of the wall which are protected by blue metal panels. Another prototype, constructed by an Alabama-based company features a wide concrete base that narrows into a thin concrete wall for the upper half of the wall.
Only one of the designs modeled offers gaps in the wall allowing Border Agents to peer through and observe the Mexican side of the border. The guidelines for the wall issued by President Trump and updated by the CBP calls for “see-through features” in their call for prototypes.
It appears the promised border wall is slowly becoming a reality. Are you ready for the wall to finally go up?
“It’s good to be able to see through the south side. We can see them, they can see us,” explained Border Patrol Agent Theron Francisco. “But in a way, it can be negative because we’re always being watched. They always can see us. It goes both ways.”
The border wall prototypes are expected to be finished by October 26th. Funding for the prototype was provided by The Department of Homeland Security, and President Trump will be forced to obtain the consent of Congress to begin full-blown construction of the wall.