by Ruth Riddle:
The border wall, promised by President Trump, is moving forward. First, the eight prototypes have been completed and tested. Second, Judge Curiel has ruled in favor of the environmental waivers, which will allow DHS to proceed with wall construction. Third, President Trump will visit the border wall prototypes in mid-March 2018.
The prototypes are located near the border, east of San Diego. The testing was conducted by special operation teams from El Paso, Texas, and Florida. The tests revealed that typical methods of illegal entry (e.g., cutting torches, jackhammers and concrete saws) were less successful than attempts at previous walls. The new 30-foot walls (comparable to the height of a three-story building) were virtually impossible to climb. A Department of Homeland Security official said, “I can’t talk about it. But the walls were so high we had to suspend testing. It was unsafe. Out of dozens of attempts, one guy made it to the top but he couldn’t get down. We had to bring him down with a cherry picker.”
Of the eight prototypes tested, agents liked the see-through bollard-style fence the best. Customs and Border Protection has estimated a 2,026-mile border wall system would need roughly 864 miles of new wall and roughly 1,163 miles of replacement or secondary wall; the cost would be $18 billion. The full results of the testing won’t be made public for months. One key takeaway is that different parts of the border will require different types of walls. It is likely that components of multiple prototypes will be merged to create different walls for different sites.
On Tuesday, February 27, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel dismissed arguments from several environmental groups that alleged the Trump administration violated the Constitution and had gone beyond its authority when the Department of Homeland Security issued waivers to build along the southwest border. In order to expedite construction, DHS issued waivers to numerous laws and regulations, including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. In his ruling, Curiel wrote: “The [DHS] Secretary is granted broad discretion in determining how to achieve and maintain operational control of the border.” Curiel stated that his ruling did not consider whether the border wall is politically wise.
The upcoming appearance of President Trump, in hard hat, at the border, to inspect the prototypes and discuss the resumption of construction will be another media event to cement President Trump’s promise to build the wall.
The president’s trip to California will spark protests, due to the ongoing debate over DACA, border security and immigration reforms. Also, President Trump has criticized California officials. In response to politicians’ refusals to cooperate with ICE, President Trump has threatened to pull immigration enforcement out of California. A case in point is the Oakland mayor, who in late February alerted illegal immigrants of impending ICE raids.
Statewide legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017, limits the circumstances under which jails across California turn over undocumented inmates to the federal government. It also forbids local police officers from arresting people on civil immigration warrants and from joining federal agents in task forces to enforce immigration laws.
“Because sanctuary jurisdictions like Los Angeles prevent ICE from arresting criminal aliens in the secure confines of a jail, our officers are forced to conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk and increasing the incidents of collateral arrests,” said Thomas Homan, the Acting Director of ICE.
In addition to inspecting the border wall prototypes, President Trump will attend an RNC fundraiser in Los Angeles.