Now that eight 30-foot wall prototypes are being built in San Diego, we’re finding out what the potential extensions to the current border wall between Mexico and the U.S. could look like.
Texas-based NPR reporter John Burnett traveled to California to get a look at them. He says that U.S. officials planned for controversy surrounding the prototypes.
“Customs and Border Protection expected all kinds of protest,” Burnett says. “They even had a ‘free speech zone’ they’d created. They had contigencies for security if trouble broke out. And nobody has protested these things, but there’s all this security. You can’t see [the prototypes] – you have to get shuttled in on a Border Patrol van. They take you to a special bullpen, you put on your hard hat, and then you see from a distance these crews busily erecting these massive walls.”
He says the height of the prototypes left a strong impression. “I interviewed an Israeli human rights lawyer and I said, ‘How tall is the wall between the West Bank and Israel?’ He said, ‘25 feet,’” Burnett says. “These are 30-foot walls. That’s as tall as a three-story building.”
The president is pushing for the extensions to be built, but Burnett says it’s unclear what the impact of these prototypes will be.
“What really struck me about this – when I talked to Roy Villareal, the acting chief there in the San Diego sector, he wouldn’t commit that they’re ever going to use these things,” Burnett says. “He said, ‘Well, we’re going to draw on them for some designs for the future, but what you saw this morning may not actually be what it finally looks like.’ I just kind of wonder if these really aren’t for show, so the president can tweet them and show his followers.”
He says it’s also unclear whether Congress will approve President Trump’s plan to build the extensions. “They’re very, very expensive,” Burnett says. “He’s asked for $1.6 billion for wall construction and it hasn’t been approved by Congress yet. And you’ve got all these new needs from the hurricanes.”
Burnett says the timeline for construction is another uncertainty. “I just don’t know what’s going to happen,” he says. “But I can tell you that there are eight prototypes down there in the San Diego border that are quite something.”
Written by Jen Rice.