Construction of the US-Mexico border wall is underway, with one project to begin within days and several other projects in due course, Ronald Vitiello, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s acting deputy commissioner has announced.
US Customs and Border Protection Acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello briefs the media on border security and the status of border wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border at U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Washington D.C.
According to a press release issued by the CPB, Vitiello said that they were “on track to replace 20 miles of primary vehicle barrier in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. Ground breaking is scheduled for early April.”
The projects span the Southwest border from San Diego to the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas.
In San Diego, 14 miles of outdated steel plate barrier will be replaced with a bollard structure—hollow steel beams filled with concrete and steel rods. The bollard design provides agents with needed visibility into Mexico while improving protection, he continued.
At least two miles of the border barrier in Calexico, California, is already being replaced with 30-foot bollard wall along with four miles of bollard wall in El Paso. Closing gaps along the border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector is also part of the border wall project.
“We’re building 35 new gates along a stretch of 55 miles of existing border wall,” Vitiello said. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in October 2018.
Along those areas, the barrier is further away from the Mexican border. The gates close gaps in the wall while permitting the U.S. Border Patrol, emergency vehicles and landowners with property on the southern side of the barrier access through an automatic gate.
The Rio Grande Valley Sector will also benefit from 25 miles of new levee wall along the Rio Grande River and eight miles of bollard wall in Starr County, Texas.
Department of Homeland Security’s FY 2017 Enacted Appropriations provided funding to construct 35 gates to close gaps in the existing 55 miles of levee and border wall in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Pictured is an area near McAllen, Texas, from September 2013.
When fully funded, about 1,000 of almost 2,000 of the U.S. border with Mexico will have border wall and other critical infrastructure.
Vitiello thanked the Trump Administration for their leadership and commitment to border security. He also recognized Congress for their $1.6 Billion “down payment” on the border wall system, which was included in the Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2018. The funding provides for the construction of approximately 100 miles of new border wall.
Over the years, walls have proven their worth, said the acting commissioner. “Our agents and officers have decades of experience and perspective, and they know our operational needs,” he said.
According to Vitiello, the U.S. Border Patrol, from Sector Chiefs to Border Patrol agents in the field, have been vocal about their need for effective barriers that impede and deny the entry of illegal aliens and contraband.
“The truth is, walls work,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Vitiello said. “The data show it, and our agents know it.”