U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has said that the first new border-wall construction project will begin in April. In light of this announcement, President Trump’s references to our government having already constructed new sections of border wall need to be understood as projects renovating or repairing existing barriers — not constructing new ones where none existed before.
Britain’s Daily Mail reported on March 14 that border barriers erected between the United States and Mexico since the beginning of the Trump administration have consisted of supplements to existing walls and replacements for outmoded or decrepit barriers. The article noted that the border-wall construction the Trump administration has built so far has consisted of replacing some existing barriers and reinforcing others with secondary fencing.
The Daily Mail quoted a statement Trump made after visiting the border city of McAllen, Texas, on January 11, during which he described wall renovations as new construction. “I will say, we’ve done a lot of renovation. And we have a lot of new wall going up where we took down wall because it was in such bad shape, and we put new wall up” he said.
We reported on February 6 that a CBP official had just confirmed that the federal government would soon begin construction of more border barriers in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, with heavy construction equipment expected to arrive within the week. That project will be funded with more than $600 million that Congress approved last March for 33 miles of new barriers.
In that report, we cited a CBP statement from last September saying that it planned to construct approximately 25 miles of a levee/border-wall system in Hidalgo County, Texas, and approximately eight miles of a border-wall system in Starr County, Texas.
This is apparently the same project that will begin in April, since in a recent e-mail to the Daily Mail, CBP spokesman Roger Maier said, “The first new wall project, where no barrier currently exists, is anticipated to start in April.” Maier identified Hidalgo County as the construction project’s location, which is along a 50-mile stretch of the Rio Grande.
We also reported in a February 25 article that CBP was beginning construction on the San Diego Secondary Wall Project. The project includes the replacement of 14 miles of existing secondary barrier with a 30-foot-tall steel bollard wall that is directly north of the San Diego primary fence replacement project that is currently under construction with FY 2017 funding. However, these projects can be viewed as upgrades of older border fences deemed to be inadequate and are not entirely new barriers.
During a March 15 Oval Office press briefing, Trump stated: “We’re building a lot of wall right now. It’s started. A lot of people are saying, ‘Well, gee, you took down wall and you’re building new.’ Well, we took down wall that almost didn’t exist. It was like paper. And we’re replacing it with, in many cases, 30-foot bollards. And, in many cases, we’re replacing it with 18-foot wall.”
Photo: AP Images