President Trump celebrated what he called the “start of our Southern Border WALL” by sharing photos of a bollard fencing project in Calexico, California that has been ongoing since February.
In a tweet, Trump said he had a “great briefing” on Tuesday on the current construction project that is taking place in southern California.
Great briefing this afternoon on the start of our Southern Border WALL! pic.twitter.com/pmCNoxxlkH
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
The project in Calexico, though, was funded in Fiscal Year 2017 and does not include any of the prototype border walls that Trump toured this month.
Instead, the project consists of 30-food high bollard style fencing on a 2.2.5-mile section that spans from Calexico’s West Port of Entry to beyond the Gran Plaza Outlets. The project, as mentioned by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), also includes 2.25 miles worth of new roads along the southern border.
DHS officials have previously said that the Calexico replacement fencing is one of Border Patrol’s “highest priority projects” because the fencing being replaced is from the 1990s and was made up of recycled metal scraps.
“Although the existing wall has proven effective at deterring unlawful cross-border activity, smuggling organizations damaged and breached this outdated version of a border wall several hundred times during the last two years, resulting in costly repairs,” according to news released at the time when construction began last month on the project.
Trump’s celebration of the replacement fencing project comes after he signed a spending bill last week that did not include a single provision from his 70-point list of pro-American immigration reforms and went even further by banning him from building a new wall along the southern border using the prototype walls that he toured last month, as Breitbart News reported.
The replacement fencing is not the depiction of a “great” border wall that Trump has previously promised his supporters.
For example, in the 2016 presidential election, when giving his historic immigration speech in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump announced:
On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall. We will use the best technology including above and below ground sensors — that’s the tunnels — remember that, above and below. Above and below ground sensors, towers, areal surveillance, and manpower to supplement the wall, find and dislocate tunnels, and keep out criminal cartels… [Emphasis added]
As Breitbart News reported, apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border have ticked back up to former President Obama-era levels, with a total of 26,666 illegal aliens being apprehended at the border last month alone.
Trump’s populist immigration agenda — wherein he has called on the Republican-controlled Congress to reduce overall immigration levels to raise the wages of American workers — has largely fallen on deaf ears with the GOP leadership.
Despite immigration being the most important issue to Republican voters in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, Republican lawmakers have refused to take up the issue, as Trump has. Instead, the Republican leadership is planning to tout their tax reform legislation as their biggest achievement, though half of swing voters say the tax cuts will have “no impact” on their vote in the midterms.