Trump Visits the New Border Wall: 'Close to 500 Miles by the Time We Finish'

By Susan Jones | September 19, 2019 | 5:53am EDT
President Donald Trumpvisits the US-Mexico border fence in Otay Mesa, California on September 18, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

( - President Donald Trump smiled on Wednesday, as he received a briefing on a section of his long-promised border wall that is now under construction south of San Diego, California.

"I wanted to show you some of the details of the wall," Trump told the reporters covering him. "You can see a pretty good view. This is going to be close to 500 miles by the time we finish. Those are the areas that are most important.”

Trump said the wall will be either 18 feet high or 30 feet high, depending on the land where it is located and how heavily trafficked that area is. In some places, such as where he was standing near Tijuana, there is a double wall -- one on the border, and another one running parallel to it on the U.S. side.

"It will be over 400 miles, and we think we can get it close to 500 miles by the end of next year, depending on certain terrain conditions," Trump said. "But we're doing all of the most important areas. We have a lot of natural barriers, like mountains and streams and rivers, and some pretty vicious and violent rivers, actually, but it's an amazing project."

The Army Corps of Engineers is building the wall. The Corps' commanding general, Todd Semonite, explained what makes this wall "virtually impenetrable," as Trump described the reinforced steel-and-concrete slatted design.

As the general spoke, Trump invited reporters to move closer to the bollards into which concrete will be poured when those tubes are in place.

"This is a system," Semonite said. “It is both the two walls, but it also is a road network down through the middle and the back, so Border Patrol can go ahead and continue to be able to move around. It also is a lighting system, and if you think about this, it really is a defense in depth.”

(Photo by Nicholas KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Semonite said workers are installing about 270 panels a day.

“We've got over 44,000 panels that are already built. Sixty-six miles today are already completed. There's about 251 miles that are under contract, going in the ground right now, at 17 other sites.

“There’s 163 miles that are actually on contract that are going to be let in the next 90 days. And the remainder of the miles that the president talked about is mainly private land that takes a little bit longer to get.”

Semonite said the barrier in front of him will continue over a nearby mountain.

There's rebar inside the bollards, Semonite said, which are filled with a "substantial" amount of concrete once they are installed.

The bollards cannot be easily cut through or knocked down with a vehicle, Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said.

He described the wall as "virtually impenetrable," and he said four attempts to cut through it have failed.

The fence is wired for camera and anti-drone technology, the president said. (Trump may have gone too far in describing the technology. Semonite politely told him that some things are better left unsaid.) 

The wall's concrete extends underground to prevent tunneling, and it has some "sophisticated" openings, as Trump put it, to allow the Border Patrol through, if necessary.

Morgan called the design a "game-changer" for CBP. It is see-through, there is an anti-climb feature at the top, which gives agents extra time to apprehend would-be border jumpers.

The wall is also designed to absorb heat. "It's very, very hot," Trump said. "You can fry an egg on that wall."

Morgan disputed the "false narrative that this wall is the president's 'vanity project.'"

"I’m here to tell you right now, that's false," Morgan said.

"This president, this administration, what they did was exactly what the president just explained. He reached out to the experts, to the Border Patrol agents that are on the front lines every singles day, risking their lives protecting this country, enforcing the laws that Congress enacted.

“He reached out to those agents to those line agents and asked, what do you need to do your job more effectively to secure and safeguard this country, and those Border Patrol agents said, ‘We need this.’ So this president, thank you, you listened to the agents and you gave them exactly what they asked for,” Morgan added.

Trump congratulated all involved....for building a "pretty impressive" structure.

“So now we have a world class security system at the border, including the highest technology. I would think there is no place like this anywhere.”

Trump said three foreign delegations (he didn't name them) have already come to "study" the new wall, with an eye to building one themselves. The only thing is I'm not sure they can afford a wall like this," he said.


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