Trump administration announces 100 miles of border wall

Submitted by on Sat, 03/31/2018 - 18:33


The Trump administration will use $1.6 billion in new congressional funding for 100 miles of new and replacement border wall along the U.S.-Mexico boundary, Acting Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Ronald Vitiello said Friday.

Vitiello described the wall system as a "comprehensive solution that provides wall, lighting, enforcement cameras, and other related technology, and all-weather roads to impede and deny illegal cross-border activity."

Roughly 47 miles of current border wall will be replaced. Vitiello said multiple times he could not cite how much of the construction would be new, though the remaining 53 miles are expected to fill in that gap.

The Department of Homeland Security will add about 33 miles of new wall and replace 35 miles of it in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, the southern-most part of the state.

Twenty-five miles of new levee wall will be put up in Hidalgo County, Texas, and eight miles of new wall will be built in Starr County, Texas.

In the Rio Grande Valley, 35 new gates will be added throughout a 55-mile stretch of existing border wall. Vitiello said the additions will close "critical gaps in the current infrastructure."

Santa Teresa, N.M., will see 20 new miles of border wall. Construction in New Mexico is scheduled to start as early as next week.

Vitiello said San Diego will replace 14 miles of "old, dilapidated landing mats" with a "steel, ballard wall." Fourteen other miels of secondary barrier in the city also will be switched out.

"In Calexico, we're on schedule and on budget to build a new 30-foot border wall as approved by the administration. This replaces two miles of pedestrian barrier," Vitiello said, adding that part of the Southwest border has needed to be redone since 2009.

The Calexico, Calif., replacement construction was announced Feb. 21, but CBP said Friday that the building process did not start then.

The Border Patrol chief said the needs for the wall were dictated by Border Patrol agents and CBP officers in the field, a hint that Trump's push on the issue did not play a big role in where the agency decided to build.

"The truth is walls work and the data shows it and the agents know it," he added.

CBP announced in September plans to build eight border wall prototypes in San Diego. The prototypes underwent testing and evaluation through February. Trump traveled to the southern California city in mid-March to tour the area.

VItiello on Friday said all of the designs will go toward the type of barriers that are built on the border. The kinds of wall used will depend on the needs of the officers who work in those regions.

CBP wants an additional 1,000 miles of new fencing and said the $25 billion Trump requested in January would be enough to get all of it built.

The announcement comes two days after Trump tweeted four photos of border wall construction. He said he had received a "great briefing" on the "start of our Southern Border WALL," but did not disclose who briefed him.

Vitiello said Friday that CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan had met with Trump and updated him in that meeting.