The construction of eight prototypes for Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, a signature campaign pledge last year, started Tuesday in San Diego, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement.
Of the eight prototypes, four will be made of concrete and the other four will be built of alternate or “other materials,” according to the agency. “We are committed to securing our border and that includes constructing border walls,” Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said in a statement. “Our multi-pronged strategy to ensure the safety and security of the American people include barriers, infrastructure, technology and people.”
Vitiello added that “moving forward with the prototypes enables us to continue to incorporate all the tools necessary to secure our border.”
CBP shared a video clip on Twitter that shows the construction of these prototypes, adding that they are “designed to deter illegal border crossings.”
The prototypes would measure between 18 and 30 feet high. The concrete prototype would allow CBP to evaluate the potential of a new barrier design to complement the wall the agency has used along the border in recent years, according to another statement. In the case of “other material prototypes,” it will “provide an innovative perspective in the application of new materials,” CBP said. The type of material has not yet been disclosed.
Six companies were selected to build the concrete and the alternative prototypes. Two of them, Caddell Construction of Montgomery, Alabama, and Philadelphia, Mississippi-based W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company, were selected to build both prototypes.
The remaining companies, save Maryland-based ELTA North America, which was selected to build the alternate materials border wall, are based in Houston and Sierra Vista, Arizona, the latter being located a few miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Coincidentally, people who live along the border have rejected Trump’s border wall project in the past, due to its cost and the geology of the river valley.
It remains to be seen, however, when the construction of the wall alongside the U.S.-Mexico border is slated to begin. During the president’s speech in Alabama Friday night, he talked about final choices being made with respect to the wall. “We’re spending a tremendous amount of money and we’re going to have that.” He later added, “We’re going to build the wall; it’s coming along great.”
But the Trump administration’s request to Congress for $1.6 billion in wall finances for the following fiscal year, which starts October 1, has not yet been approved. However, money to renovate three miles of border protection in the city of Calexico, California, has been approved.
In August, Democrats pledged to block any efforts to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall. As a result, Senate Republicans shifted Trump’s ambitions to construct a multibillion-dollar wall and instead considered a plan to improve border security through infrastructure, technology and enforcement. Even if the construction of the wall is approved, the wall would not be completed by the end of Trump’s first term, as The Atlantic reported in February.
Preparations for the prototype construction, which had been carried out for weeks, became more evident when the San Diego County Sheriff last weekend placed no-parking signs across roads and streets in business parks that populate the border area, according to The Los Angeles Times. The parking ban, which started Tuesday, will extend to November 10, the Times reported.
For many, the construction of these prototypes is nothing more than political banter. “There is no funding for it in Congress,” Hiram Soto, spokesman for the activist group Alliance San Diego, told the Times.
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