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Thread: Construction finishes on Calexico barrier

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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    PARADISE (San Diego)

    Construction finishes on Calexico barrier

    With border wall funding still in question, construction finishes on Calexico barrier

    Kate Morrissey Contact Reporter

    Construction workers last week put up the final panel of a new border barrier in Calexico, Calif., a project touted by President Donald Trump as the first part of his promised wall between Mexico and the U.S.

    Almost two years into Trump’s presidency, Congress has so far avoided funding a full-fledged border wall.

    The approximate $1.6 billion in legislative funding that has been awarded to border construction has focused on replacement barrier projects with restrictions about the type of structure that could be built with the money.

    That meant that the Trump administration couldn’t build barriers that resemble wall prototypes in Otay Mesa.

    Whether the Calexico barrier is actually part of the wall has been heavily debated since the project was announced in February.

    The estimated $18 million project replaced just over two miles of 1990s barrier made of Vietnam War landing mats with 30-foot bollards, posts placed close together to restrict entry but allow for agents to see through. The new structure goes from Calexico’s new port of entry next to the New River past the Gran Plaza outlets to an agricultural area west of Calexico’s downtown.

    While Department of Homeland Security officials previously called existing border barriers “fences,” after construction began in Calexico, they began to refer to both old and new structures as part of a “border wall” and more recently “border wall system.”

    Gloria Chavez, chief of the El Centro sector of Border Patrol, said the new Calexico barrier is “a solid first step in strengthening our border security posture.”

    “The border wall will greatly enhance our agents’ ability to detect and arrest those entering the country illegally,” Chavez said, adding that she believes it will also have a positive impact on the surrounding border communities.

    The Calexico project was used by several high-ranking officials in the Trump administration as a platform to push for more restrictive measures in the immigration system.

    DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited the construction site in April to call for Congress to close “legal loopholes” like limits on how long children can be held in detention centers. Protesters showed up on the Mexican side and stepped briefly into the U.S. to show opposition to the administration’s push for a border wall.

    Later that month, Vice President Mike Pence also visited the site to express disapproval of a caravan of Central American migrants that had just arrived in Tijuana to ask for asylum.

    “When it comes to the border wall, we’re going to build it all,” Pence said at the time.

    Planning for the project began in 2009 but funding and construction came under the Trump administration.

    The only characteristic the new structure shares with Trump’s border wall prototypes is its height. At 30 feet tall, it towers over older fencing in the El Centro sector, which at the highest rises to about 20 feet.

    Six of the eight prototypes don’t fit one of Border Patrol’s main criteria for new construction — being able to see through the barrier to better respond to crossing attempts and improve agent safety. According to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office, Customs and Border Protection also determined that all of the prototypes would present construction challenges.

    Because the new Calexico barrier is see-through, some have said that it is a fence, not a wall.

    The president has pushed Congress to fully fund a border wall and threatened to shut down the government if the money did not come through.

    Though he was strongly critical of a spending bill that Congress passed in September, he ended up signing without getting money for his wall.

    “I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms?” Trump tweeted about a week before he signed the bill.

    Pieces of the Vietnam War landing mats that previously lined the border in Calexico. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

    The Calexico structure is one of several going up along the southwest border this year. Workers recently completed 20 miles of border barrier in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, a project that began in April.

    Construction crews are also working to replace 14 miles of landing-mat blockade along the San Diego-Tijuana border. According to Border Patrol Agent Tekae Michael, workers have completed about 6.6 miles of that project, which began in June.

    When asked why the Calexico project, which was significantly shorter in length than the Santa Teresa project, took longer to complete, CBP spokesman Carlos Diaz said completion time “depends on a variety of factors that can include terrain, project design, proximity to materials, etc.”

    While the Calexico project went up generally linearly from west to east, the San Diego barrier is being installed in patches, with sections of new structure interspersed with sections of the original barrier. All of it will be replaced before the project is over, Michael said.

    It’s the first time San Diego agents have been able to see through to the Mexican side of the border, she said.

    “It’s a big deal for us,” Michael said.

    The new San Diego barrier is similar to the one in Calexico, save for an opaque plate added at the top of the bollards that agents refer to as an “anti-climb feature.”

    The completion of Calexico construction comes shortly after the El Centro Border Patrol sector announced the beginning of Operation Blazing Sands, which is focused on thwarting human smuggling in another section of the sector’s area of responsibility.

    Through August, agents in El Centro have apprehended almost 26,300 people in fiscal 2018, according to CBP data. Agents in the San Diego sector caught just under to 35,000 in the same time frame.

    According to El Cajon sector Border Patrol Agent Justin Castrejon, at least one person has already been injured and hospitalized after falling from the new, taller structure while trying to climb over it.

    Immigrant rights activists have long opposed border barrier construction. Earlier fencing and increased security in heavily traveled regions shifted illegal border crossings into the desert where unauthorized immigrants are more likely to face serious injury or even death.

    Environmental activists have also opposed such construction, saying it disrupts habitats and migration patterns of a variety of animals, including endangered species.

    On Wednesday, DHS announced that it would waive environmental impact assessment of a construction project in the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas, the sector that currently sees the highest number of illegal border crossings.

    “The Rio Grande Valley is one of the most spectacular and biologically important landscapes in the country,” said Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Every acre is irreplaceable. We’ll do everything in our power to stop this destruction.”

    The organization sued over similar waivers that DHS put in place for Calexico and San Diego construction. A federal judge sided with the Trump administration, and the center for Biological Diversity is appealing that decision.

    A tweet from the El Centro sector announcing the end of construction promised more border infrastructure improvements in 2019.

    Last edited by JohnDoe2; 10-11-2018 at 01:19 PM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    PARADISE (San Diego)
    Beezer likes this.

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.

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    Please support our fight against illegal immigration by joining ALIPAC's email alerts here

  3. #3
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    So glad to see this work being done in these high-priority areas. So thankful to the President for getting them done and looking forward to more of them.

    Beezer likes this.
    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    Put drum rollers on top, grease them up, and roll them one-way BACK to Mexico.

    Let the fall off on their side.

    If they fall on our side, call THIER EMT's to come pick them up!
    Judy likes this.


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