The eight prototypes of the “Trump border wall” due for construction on the US-Mexican border will be unveiled on October 26, the US Customs and Border (CBP) agency has announced.
Four of the prototypes are concrete walls and four are nonconcrete designs, all selected from dozens of proposals submitted by contractors earlier this year.
The prototypes are being built in a remote area near San Diego, with local and federal police setting up a large presence at the site, with a “free speech zone” set up nearby for opponents and supporters to demonstrate.
No photographs of the work have been allowed for security reasons, and sight of the construction area has been obscured by a large green tarpaulin.
This did of course not stop media from acquiring aerial views of the construction site, and drone footage showed the various prototypes under construction.
The walls all have striking features ranging from slats that allow CBP to see through to the other side, another has a slope on the US side and a completely straight wall facing Mexico, while another has a fence jutting over its Mexican side, and yet another has blue metal on its top portion.
“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, said Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Moving forward with the prototypes enables us to continue to incorporate all the tools necessary to secure our border.”
The requirements to adhere to Trump’s vision call for ‘a fence that is impenetrable, it’s unscalable,’ said Roy Villareal, acting chief patrol agent of the San Diego border sector. ‘They can’t dig under it. They can’t cut through it.
The agency will then take a few weeks to test them, determining how quickly and easily the prototype can be breached, and analyzing how effectively the companies incorporated anti-climbing mechanisms, see-through capabilities and other security features.
The designs are between 18 and 30 feet, and will be evaluated on how well they deter climbers, how well they withstand breach attempts and what sort of awareness they allow agents who patrol the border.
About 354 miles of the 1,952-mile border are currently protected by some form of wall. Another 300 miles have vehicle barriers, which allow easy penetration by pedestrians or animals but are designed to stop trucks and cars from crossing the border.
Trump’s 2017 budget called for money for replacing some outdated parts of the current wall, while his 2018 plan asked for $1.6 billion to erect 32 miles of new fencing in Texas, another 28 miles of new levee wall, also in Texas, and 14 miles of replacement fencing in San Diego.
The House has approved the money, but the Senate has yet to take up the bill, and Democrats have announced they will try to derail any legislation that includes border wall money.
There is enough money in the current 2017 budget to pay for the prototypes.
Two of the companies involved in the construction bids are of note: KWR Construction Inc., of Sierra Vista, Arizona, is a Hispanic-owned company, and ELTA North America Inc., of Annapolis Junction, Maryland, is an Israeli defense contractor owned by state-run Israel Aerospace Industries.