Trump Demands DHS Speed Up Construction of Southern Border Wall
President Trump has requested Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials speed up the construction of his proposed border wall along the United States-Mexico border, according to a new report.
Trump is demanding that hundreds of miles of border wall be constructed by DHS despite the agency constructing new barriers at a historically slow pace thus far, according to sources who spoke to the Washington Post.
In about two and a half years, DHS has constructed about 52 miles of fresh border wall, only in areas that previously had a barrier. This indicates that on average, the Trump administration has built less than two miles of border wall a month since January 2017.
Trump, the Washington Post reports, is pressing DHS officials to speed up construction so that potentially 500 miles of border wall is built before the 2020 presidential election:
The president has told senior aides that a failure to deliver on the signature promise of his 2016 campaign would be a letdown to his supporters and an embarrassing defeat. With the election 14 months away and hundreds of miles of fencing plans still in blueprint form, Trump has held regular White House meetings for progress updates and to hasten the pace, according to several people involved in the discussions. [Emphasis added]
During a conference call last week, officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Army Corps engineers that the hundreds of miles of fencing must be completed before the next presidential election, according to administration officials with knowledge of the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal communications. [Emphasis added]
CBP and Pentagon officials insist they remain on track to complete about 450 miles of fencing by the election. Of that, about 110 miles will be added to areas where there is currently no barrier. The height of the structure will vary between 18 and 30 feet, high enough to inflict severe injury or death from a fall. [Emphasis added]
Trump also wants aesthetic changes to barries that have already been built, the Washington Post reported. The president has asked DHS officials to have the border wall painted black so that it absorbs heat and is hot to the touch, as well as to ensure that the top of the barriers are spiked and pointed to deter wall-jumpers from crossing.
Like Trump, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) told the Washington Post that he is frustrated with the pace at which DHS is building barriers at the border, writing “I wish DHS would engage a whole bunch of builders and innovators rather than rely on the same decades-old bureaucracy.”
The majority of the nearly 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border has no barrier, with only about 650 miles currently having barriers. Over the last year, DHS officials have repeatedly said hundreds of miles of border wall will be constructed by the end of 2020.