Construction on Trump’s promised border wall began Friday at Border Field State Park in San Diego.
The wall, which will cost $147 million, will replace an existing border fence made of Vietnam-era scrap metal and steel plates.
“The construction of this new substantial wall will improve overall border security, the safety and effectiveness of Border Patrol agents, the safety of the public, and will enhance the atmosphere for business and commerce in the area,” says Rodney Scott, Chief of Customs and Border Protection (CPB) for the San Diego area.
The new wall will be comprised of 30-foot bollards (posts) set close enough so that agents can see through (the ability to see through will help agents avoid objects tossed over the wall) and will be topped with an “anti-climbing” steel plate to prevent crossings.
The San Diego project is similar to other walls already in place along California’s border with Mexico.
“What I can tell you is that infrastructure works,” says local CPB agent Vincent C. Pirro. “We have seen a correlation between construction of border infrastructure and the reduction of illegal human and drug traffic…we expect the new wall in San Diego to have a similar effect.”
The 60-mile San Diego border is one of the most active in the nation. In 2017, officers caught more than 26,000 illegal immigrants and confiscated thousands of pounds of illegal drugs. The rate of apprehensions has already risen 33% in 2018.
“Although the existing wall was proven effective, the cross border threat has increased and the several decades of old corrugated steel landing mat is in need of replacement with a higher performing design,” said the CBP in a statement.
The San Diego wall is also an important milestone for Trump, who campaigned on the promise to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
“Under this President’s leadership, we have a renewed commitment to secure our border,” says CPB Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello. “The new primary wall-project represents an important milestone in our work to secure the international border” and “reflects CBP’s unwavering commitment to secure our borders and protect our nation.”
Projects similar to the one in San Diego are already in the works in Calexico, CA and Santa Teresa, NM.
Congress in March allocated $1.6 billion for improvements to border security. The wall Trump wants to build is estimated to cost between $18 and $22 billion without maintenance.
Editor’s note: This is not a huge amount of fence, but its a hugely symbolic event for Trump supporters.