After months of debate on President Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the first major steps of the project have been revealed.
On Friday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitello stated that the current administration would be putting nearly $1.6 billion toward creating the structure, which is set to be nearly 100 miles long.
According to Politico, the “big, beautiful” wall Trump promised on his 2016 campaign trail is now being seen as more of a “fixer-upper” rather than a stand-alone structure, as its still unknown how much money will go to creating new border barriers versus merely enhancing old ones.
“It’s a mix,” Vitello said after he was pressed to differentiate between improvements to existing barriers and installing new ones.
“I would say that it’s all new because there’s a different design going in, it’s replacing stuff that’s unsuitable,” he said, adding that the argument to distinguish the two is unimportant.
“I would call it all new,” he added. “It replaces what is existing.”
The commissioner stated that the newly created system of walls will likely be a “comprehensive solution” that will provide U.S. Border Patrol with a host of assistance during their shift.
Besides the wall, these assistive measures include enforcement cameras and other technology, better lighting and all-weather roads to impede border-crossing activity.
Included in the enhancement plans is the replacement of steel landing mats in San Diego with nearly 14 miles of bollard wall, as well as the replacement of a second barrier.
Other places such as Calexico, California will see nearly two miles of a 30-foot wall installed as well as the installment of 25 miles of levee wall and the addition of gates in existing structures in Hidalgo County, Texas.
The Customs and Border Protection Agency also admitted that it will be replacing nearly 47 miles of fencing already along the border, as well as adding such things as cameras once the installation of the new wall is complete.
And the project is likely to get started full-force in April, where a proposed 20 miles of existing border walls are to be replaced in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
The agency added that, though there are nearly 654 miles of existing structure along the border already, it would be expanded to nearly 1,000 miles — a goal Vitello admits could be accomplished if Trump received the $25 billion he requested for funding the project.
The 2018 appropriations package announced earlier this year had granted Congress $1.6 billion towards border security, though Vitello admits that the amount does not fully fund the needs of the border’s more critical locations.
However, the commissioner lauded the president over his efforts to tighten security along the U.S. southern border and cited the commander in chief’s support as a crucial element in raising funds for the project and getting more support.
“Let me be clear,” Vitello said. “Without the president and the administration’s leadership and a commitment to border security, the funding for construction of these projects would not be possible.”
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