United States President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall will be practically impenetrable, a U.S. official suggested after recent test assaults were conducted on wall prototypes.
Attempts by U.S. military special forces and highly-trained U.S. Border Protection and Customs (CBP) officers to breach and scale eight models of the proposed barrier showed that their height should be effective in stopping illegal border crossers, the official who had direct knowledge of the tests told The Associated Press.
For three weeks, commandos from Florida and the CBP special units used jackhammers, saws, torches and other tools and climbing devices to try to penetrate the prototypes, currently located in San Diego, California.
A subsequent CBP report identified the strengths and weaknesses of each full-scale model, the federal official said, although it did not choose a winning design or rank them.
However, the report suggested that a see-through, steel wall with a concrete top had the best overall design, although it also recommended combining elements of different designs depending on the terrain on which it is being built.
The official who spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity compared that approach to building Lego.
CBP spokesman Carlos Díaz said the agency’s tendering guidelines for wall prototypes specified a minimum height of 5.4 meters, or 18 feet.
Successful bidders were subsequently awarded between US $300,000 and US $500,000 to build their models. Four built concrete prototypes and the other four used other materials.
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump reiterated the need for the wall to be transparent after first explaining the see-through requirement to reporters on a flight from Washington to Paris in July last year.
“One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it,” the president said.
“As horrible as it sounds, when they throw large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them. They hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over,” he added.
Trump also suggested last year that the wall could be covered with solar panels but none of the prototypes included an electricity generating capacity in their design and only two of the eight are see-through.
After visiting the prototypes in October, CBP acting deputy commissioner Ronald Vitiello said that he was most impressed with the 9.1-meter designs, which are undoubtedly more effective but also costlier than lower barricades.
However, the military and CBP testers demonstrated that if it is to serve its intended purpose, a larger economic outlay is likely necessary. They were able to climb up to 6.1 meters on the higher prototypes unassisted, the official said, but after that they needed help.
The testers also expressed safety concerns about descending from a height of 30 feet, a factor that would almost certainly be a deterrent to those seeking to scale a similar-sized structure from south of the U.S. border.
Getting the money required for the project, however, remains problematic.
The Trump administration has asked Congress for US $1.6 billion to build or replace almost 120 kilometers of barriers in Texas and California this year and reportedly plans to request the same amount next year.
A CBS proposal calls for US $18 billion over 10 years to extend barriers to cover half the border’s length, but Trump’s position on that plan is unclear.
Immigration policy remains one of the most contentious issues in the U.S. as Trump begins the second year of his presidency.
A dispute over changes to the so-called DREAM act, affecting migrants who arrived in the U.S. as children, was the primary cause of a failure by Congress to pass funding legislation which led to a U.S. federal government shutdown midnight Saturday.
But Trump’s administration has said that wall funding must be part of any immigration deal and the president has remained committed to the proposal — one of his most prominent campaign promises — despite questions about the practicality of its construction, its potential to be effective and the source of its funding.
Mexico will pay for the wall, Trump has repeatedly said, and on Twitter last week he wrote that ” the wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico . . .”
However, Mexico has remained steadfast in its rejection of Trump’s assertion.
Last week, the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) released a statement reiterating that “our country will not pay for a wall or physical barrier, in any way and under any circumstances.”
Source: El Universal (sp)