The Homeland Security Department is overseeing the building of prototypes for President Trump’s long-promised border wall. The prototypes, built near the Otay Mesa border crossing in San Diego, are meant to be the president’s answer to illegal immigration and the cross-border drug trade.
Over the last month, six contractors have built eight different prototypes for the wall design. All of the prototypes are 18-30 feet tall, to make them difficult to scale, and 6 feet underground, to make them difficult to dig under. Half of the prototypes are made from concrete, and the other half are made from “other materials” including steel. Two of them have a see-through design, which President Trump has said will prevent people on the US side from being hit by “large sacks of drugs” thrown over the border wall.
Now that the prototypes have been erected, the process for testing them can begin. Ron Vitiello, the acting deputy commissioner for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says that they will wait until later in November for the concrete to set before an unnamed private company will begin testing. Each prototype will be tested for ease of breaching the wall, ease of climbing the wall, and safety of the border patrol agents. According to officials, these small-scale prototypes will “inform future design standards” for the wall, and President Trump has said he will choose the one he likes best.
But although the prototype walls have gone up, President Trump still faces significant obstacles in his goal of dividing the continent. Money is the primary issue; although the House has approved a bill allocating $1.6 billion for the wall, the Senate has yet to approve it, and the DHS used money allocated towards other projects to pay for the prototypes. The proposed wall has also received staunch opposition from Texas Republicans, as many in the strongly pro-free-market state object to the seizure of private land that the wall would necessitate.
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