Top Trump administration officials visited Texas five days before Election Day to announce they have nearly completed 400 miles of U.S.-Mexico border wall, showing progress on perhaps the president’s best-known campaign promise four years ago.
In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, where Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and other officials spoke Thursday, authorities have added 7 miles of fencing.
The region has long being the busiest corridor for illegal crossings.
Stephen Miller, a top Trump adviser, told reporters on Wednesday that “we have a president campaigning on having successfully built a border wall.”
Wolf criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, judges who have ruled against the wall and what he labeled “outright lies in the press.”
Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said he was locked out of his Twitter account for posting support for the wall.
“The wall system we’re looking at right now, it works,” Morgan said.
Border Patrol official Raul Ortiz said this week that the agency was not pushing to build quickly this year in case President Donald Trump loses to Democrat Joe Biden, who has pledged to freeze any border wall construction if he wins.
“For us, regardless of who’s sitting in the White House, I think giving the agents the tools and the resources are going to be awfully important,” Ortiz said.
“This infrastructure is important to us doing everything we can to control that border.”
Border Patrol officials say the new fencing, some of it as high as 30 feet, provides more deterrence against human smugglers and people trying to elude capture.
The construction also includes roads, lighting and cameras that help agents detect illegal activity.
Wolf said the new sections allowed agents to push border traffic into areas they could better control.
As of last week, 381 miles of wall have been completed during the Trump administration.
Congress has funded about $5 billion for border barriers under Trump, including more than $3 billion in the last two fiscal years for construction in the Rio Grande Valley and around Laredo, Texas.
The government faces significant obstacles in Texas, where the border is formed by the Rio Grande and the river floodplain is governed by international treaties. Much of the land is privately owned.
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