Construction crews are toiling away in the intense California heat as they put the finishing touches on prototypes for President Trump’s border wall with Mexico. The crews have been given an October 26 deadline, which is rapidly approaching.
The Arizona Republic, toured the construction site, where they found five of the wall designs already complete. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection awarded eight contracts to six companies, one of which is from the Yellowhammer State.
Most of the designs all use reinforced concrete to construct the wall, while others add some elements of steel panelling and other materials. Each firm has taken the liberty of putting its own twist on the design. The wall built by the Alabama company, for instance, has a large concrete base that tapers into a thinner frame at the top. Each wall is 30 feet tall, and will be tested for flaws allowing criminals to tunnel through or climb over them.
Their height is meant to serve as a deterrent to would-be criminals seeking to cross the border illegally. “The 30 feet is very impressive,” said Mario Villareal, the division chief for the San Diego Sector Border Patrol. “What we’re trying to accomplish is by putting tactical infrastructure on the border, by having all-weather roads, by putting Border Patrol agents on the immediate border, is the deterrence.”
The Trump administration later called for “see-through” features to be incorporated so that border agents can easily patrol the other side of the wall. A second design by the Alabama company incorporates narrowly-spaced metal bars for the bottom half of the wall, and solid concrete panels for the upper half.
“It’s good to be able to see through the south side. We can see them, they can see us,” said 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.”
Any improvement to the border wall will be much needed. The current metal-mesh fence that lines the international border is made of rusted Vietnam-era landing mats. The prototypes would be nearly twice the size of the current fence and much more stable.
CBP has already funded the building of the prototypes; however, it is unclear if funding for the entire wall will ever make it through Congress. Last week, Trump revamped his requests, appearing to offer a deal with legislators that provides a legal solution to young immigrant “dreamers” living in the country, conditional on Congress appropriating funds for the wall.
After construction is complete next week, CBP officials will begin testing the walls. Depending on the outcome of those tests, the final design could “take key features from each prototype and develop one that will work for us along the border,” Villareal said. “That is something that not only CBP will be looking at, but our engineers, is what is the best utility along the Southwest border?”