Homeland Security said it began construction Tuesday on the prototypes for president Trump’s new border wall. After months of competing for the rights and preparing for the moment, contractors finally managed to break ground on a total of eight prototypes for the president’s much-desired and long-promised border wall.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection made the announcement that the companies involved would have about one month to complete construction on their prototypes in San Diego, California.
CBP’s acting deputy commissioner, Ronald Vitiello, spoke of their plans as well as the purpose of the wall Tuesday.
“We are committed to securing our border and that includes constructing border walls. Our multi-pronged strategy to ensure the safety and security of the American people includes barriers, infrastructure, technology and people. Moving forward with the prototype enables us to continue to incorporate all the tools necessary to secure our border.”
Six contractors from different parts of the country have been selected to build the eight prototypes. Half of those eight prototypes will be constructed of concrete and the other half of “other materials.” The walls are expected to range between 18 and 30 feet high and succeed in one prevailing goal: “deter illegal crossings in the area in which they are constructed.”
The Department of Homeland Security intends to test these walls immediately after they are constructed.
And as the work is being completed, officials are doing what they can to prepare for protests against the controversial project. Miles of fencing have been put up in San Diego’s Otay Mesa region — a “checkerboard of public and private land ownership” where the prototypes are to be built — and no-parking zones will be in effect through November 10.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department won’t set up a designated space for demonstrators protesting the building of the border wall prototypes in Otay Mesa.
Spokesman Ryan Keim said Wednesday that as long as protests are peaceful and don’t tread on private property, demonstrators won’t be confined to a specific area, known as a “free-speech zone.”
“We’re not telling anyone, this is where you have to be, we’re not designating a place.”
That said, the paper reports there appeared to be no protesters around as construction kicked off Tuesday, and at least one local activist expressed skepticism the project was even worth protesting at the moment.
“It’s just political theater,” Hiram Soto, spokesman for the activist group Alliance San Diego, told the Times. “There is no funding for it in Congress.”
Trump recently took back a threat he made earlier this month to shut down the federal government if lawmakers failed to approve funds for the wall, striking a deal with Democrats to delay multiple fiscal deadlines with no strings attached. He has also appeared to acknowledge he won’t require border wall funding to be part of a possible deal to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
On the campaign trail and early in his administration, Trump had said repeatedly that Mexico would pay for the wall’s construction — a proposition that has also been repeatedly rejected by Mexican leaders.
Estimates for the cost of the border wall have ranged up to $38 billion. The Department of Homeland Security plans to pay for the construction of the prototypes, which cost up to $500,000 each, with funds reallocated internally.
[Featured Image by Gregory Bull/AP Images]