The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has started with physical tests of the “Trump Wall” border prototypes as part of the final determination of which build will be best able to withstand invasion attempts from Mexico.
The official start of the testing period was November 27, but physical tests began this past week, Carlos Diaz, CBP’s public affairs branch chief for the southwest border told ABC radio.
The physical testing will include attempts to scale and breach the prototypes with jackhammers, saws and hydraulic tools.
During the procurement process, the companies were required to build the walls at least 6 feet deep. The depth of the walls was evaluated during the construction process, according to Diaz.
Over the past three years, the existing infrastructure in San Diego has been breached nearly 2,000 times, according to Roy Villareal, the deputy chief patrol agent of the San Diego Sector. He said that’s a “testament” to the need for new wall structures.
“If you go back to the late ’80s, the border was completely overrun. There were daily robberies, rapes, assaults, vehicle thefts, high-speed pursuits, people getting killed along the border in staggering numbers,” said Villareal, speaking to ABC News in front of the prototypes.
“That has all curtailed as a result of investment in border security. That has curtailed as a result of what you see here today.”
Evaluators are going through a “very regimented process” during this assessment phase “to ensure, when it’s completed, we have the best information available,” said Diaz.
According to a report in the San Diego Union Tribune, testing “will include whether and how quickly someone could go over the top of, under and through the walls.”
Both anti-climb and anti-dig testing will happen at the prototype site in Otay Mesa, according to CBP officials. Anti-breach testing will happen with smaller versions of the walls at an undisclosed, secure site in San Diego.
Officials expect to finish testing by mid-December, according to the CBP.