President Trump’s controversial border wall project just got a jump start with an installment completed this month. A seven-mile stretch in Naco, Arizona was started in January, just days before Trump’s inauguration, and completed this week.
An update for the border boundary at this location has been in the planning stages for the last four years and funding was finally given last year in the fiscal budget approved by President Obama. The Naco border point was only made of platform landing and wire mesh but has now been replaced with bollard fencing 18 feet high.
“We have had plans for the last four years to improve this particular area of the border fence,” said Erin Jackson, from the Border Patrol Tucson Sector.”This is strictly a replacement for an existing fence in order to improve that structure.”
Border patrol in that area also reports that other pieces of the wall have been upgraded, representing a total of 210 miles of new border control. In comparison, this is about the same distance from Boston to New York City. To put the seven-mile Naco update in perspective, this is the distance from one end of San Francisco to the other.
Before the update, Naco had two fences with a road between them. Most of the border was comprised of a landing platform erected during the Vietnam War. Border patrol agents report that it definitely allows them to do their job better and inhibits illegal entrants from sneaking up on them. More pieces of the project include road improvements and improvements to water crossings should be finished next month. The project was done by Granite Construction in Tuscon.
The Trump administration hopes the wall update will jumpstart momentum for the entire wall project, whose progress has been stalled out in funding.
“He is using the current bill to get his priorities moving and put it down. To answer the question: It is currently being built in Naco, Arizona; Sunland Park, New Mexico; and we are going to be starting to do this in San Diego; El Paso; and Rio Grande Valley,” said White House Spokesman Sean Spicer.
The estimated $21 billion campaign promise can’t seem to get any headway with Congress who have stalled it out on funding. The original plan was to make Mexico pay for it, which they have refused to do. The sentiments of the Mexican people are most summed up in the words of former President Vicente Fox who famously tweeted, “When will you learn Mr. Trump, I am not paying for your f***ing wall.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz came up with a brilliant plan, which is to use the seized assets of drug kingpin “El Chapo” to pay for it. The Mexican drug lord’s net worth is somewhere around $14 billion, which would pay for most of the structure in a twist of poetic irony. Cruz introduced the bill to Congress last month; they have not voted on it yet.
But beyond that, funding for the wall was shelved in favor of passing the fiscal budget this spring. Renewed talks on funding will commence in September with the 2018 budget proposals. Aside from the funding, there are the partisan issues in a deeply divided Congress that can’t get much done in the first place. Many oppose the wall just to oppose Trump.
Other bleeding heart liberals oppose the wall based on its premise of it being mean-spirited. They seem to forget that dark-skinned jihadists frequently come to Mexico and use the weak border patrol to sneak in disguised as Central Americans.
Meanwhile, contractor finalists will meet in San Diego this summer to build a five-mile prototype for the project. A final winner will be determined at that time which will give the project a little bit more base. But some cities, like San Francisco, have been so opposed to the wall, they have pledged to blacklist any company who assists in the project.
The wall is supposed to cover the full border but much of the current wall is still usable so the project will connect the pieces that are already in place. But this ambitious project as not as easy it may seem. Some of the border is through innocuous painted desert, which will be easy to build through. But some it will have to cover mountainous regions and wade through waterways, like the Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers.
These shared waterways will be a source of diplomatic tension, as Mexico intends to impose high taxes for building through their share of the water space.
The wall is controversial, to say the least. If Trump ever manages to get through Congress and get funding somewhere before the end of his first term, he might have a shot at getting it built; if he can smooth over Mexico’s outrage on the issue.