While United States President Donald Trump continues to fight to secure funding for his border wall, work to build a new barrier between Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, is under way.
The project to replace a 20-mile section of existing vehicle barrier located just west of the Santa Teresa port of entry with a new 18 to 30-foot high bollard style wall began on April 9, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
In a press release issued the same day as construction began, CBP said the work would be carried out as part of an executive order by the president and at the direction of the Department of Homeland Secretary (DHS).
“To begin to meet the need for additional border infrastructure in this area, DHS is replacing legacy vehicle barriers that no longer meet the Border Patrol’s operation needs . . .” the statement said.
“The ability to see through into Mexico is a concept supported by the bollard style wall included in this project. This style of wall has proved beneficial to the Border Patrol to detect illegal entries and the smuggling of narcotics into the United States.”
CBP said the $73.3-million project is expected to take about 390 days.
Just a few kilometers away, a previously-existing barrier between Sunland Park, New Mexico, and the Ciudad Juárez neighborhood of Anapra was replaced last year with a two-kilometer-long bollard style wall at a cost of US $11.8 million.
A White House spokesman has cited the projects in New Mexico as well as another in Calexico, California, as evidence for an assertion Trump made May 10 that construction on a new wall has already begun.
However, according to a fact-check conducted by The New York Times, the president’s claim — made at a rally in Indiana — is “misleading.”
A Border Patrol official told a news conference that the new barrier in Santa Teresa will not be based on border wall prototypes that were unveiled in San Diego last October.
The U.S. president received nearly US $1.6 billion in funding for border security as part of a spending bill he signed in March.
However, the bill stipulates that the funds can only finance “operationally effective designs deployed” before May 2017, disqualifying the wall prototypes because they were not made public until October.
Republican party sources told the news outlet Politico that Trump will seek at least US $2.2 billion for his wall proposal in fiscal 2019, but that figure remains well short of the US $25 billion the entire project would likely cost.
This morning, the U.S. president said that he will not sign any new immigration bill passed by the Republican-controlled Congress unless it includes a “real” border wall.
Against the wishes of Republican leaders, moderate Republicans have pushed to force a vote on bills that would protect from deportation migrants brought to the United States as children and they are reportedly close to making a vote happen.
But the president told the news program Fox & Friends that “unless it includes a wall — and I mean a wall, a real wall — and unless it includes very strong border security, there will be no approval from me.”
During his 2016 election campaign — and beyond — Trump was adamant that Mexico would pay for the wall, a key factor in the currently strained relationship between Mexico and the United States.
Since Trump first floated his border wall idea and proposed funding source, Mexico has consistently maintained that it will not pay for a wall in any way or under any circumstances.
To counter that stance and funding difficulties, Republican Congresswoman Diane Black recently introduced a bill that would effectively allow the border wall to be crowdfunded by enabling the U.S. Treasury to accept donations from the American public.