One of President Trump’s central 2016 campaign promises was to build a wall at the southern border. That effort is now well underway, with his administration aiming to have completed 450 miles by the end of 2020.
As of the beginning of April, 139 miles of new primary and secondary border wall has been built since January 2017.
Of that, 125 miles of new wall in place of what CBP calls dilapidated or outdated designs. Two miles has been built where no barriers previously existed. Meanwhile, 11 miles of a secondary system were constructed in place of old designs, and one mile where none previously existed.
The current wall is 30 foot high, consisting of large metal bollards, with anti-climb technology at the top of it. Officials note too that there is lighting, roads and secondary barriers nearby as well — which makes it fundamentally different from other structures.
“When you take that down and you put in what is being built now — that is a new wall,” one official said at a briefing last year. “It’s 30 feet tall, it’s embedded in concrete, the structure is incredibly strong, it has anti-climbing techniques, it’s also got additional technology — lighting, access roads, etc so it really is a wall system. So anywhere the wall is being built, it’s new wall.”
Much of the delay of that has been because of funding, which has seen years of struggle between the administration and Congress — including one government shutdown. Additionally, the administration cites the process of securing private land needed for new wall construction as a reason for the delay in building new wall on the border.
Critics from the right in particular have said that replacement wall is not “new wall” but the administration contends that the new wall is so dramatically different from current landing mats that can easily be crossed that it essentially acts as new wall.
On the question of funding, CBP says it has identified a total of $15 billion to construct a total of 753 miles of border wall system, through a combination of Pentagon and Homeland Security funding, and the Treasury Forfeiture Fund.
There are signs that more wall, particularly in those areas where no structures previously existed, is coming.
According to the agency, funding for FY 2019 includes 1.9 billion for approximately 85 miles in areas where no previous wall existed in the Rio Grande Valley sector, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarding contracts for much of that mileage in the latter part of 2019.
For FY 2020, an additional 1.3 billion has been awarded for 69 miles of new wall in the Laredo sector, also in areas where no previous barriers existed.
The Arizona Daily Star reported that another 74 miles is set to be built in Cochise, Pima and Santa Cruz counties. These projects are in addition to 63 miles of wall being built in Cochise and Pima counties, as well as other wall projects in Yuma County, the outlet said.
In March, a CBP spokesperson told Fox News that there has so far been no delay in construction due to the coronavirus.