Congress still refuses to fund a complete border wall, but that isn’t stopping the king of construction, Donald J. Trump, from delivering the goods where it is needed most.
The El Paso Times has provided an entertaining and interesting video of construction of a new, much bigger border wall being built on the border separating the metropolises of Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, with a combined metropolitan population of at least 2.7 million souls. In an environment of scarcity, priorities must always be established, and the most densely populated areas should pay the greatest dividends in limiting the prospects of border-jumpers. San Diego and Tijuana, along with El Paso and Juarez are ground zero.
“In fiscal year 2017, El Paso Sector apprehended 25,193 illegal aliens, seized 34,189 pounds of marijuana and 140 pounds of cocaine,” the release continued. “Additionally during that fiscal year, there were 54 assaults against El Paso Sector agents.”
The agency said it contracted West Point Contractors of Tucson, Ariz., on June 1 to build the barrier.
There’s a spot on the U.S.-Mexico border in downtown El Paso, Texas, where separated immigrant family members have been allowed to gather a few times a year for a brief embrace across the international line or attend a yearly binational Catholic mass.
So when the U.S. Border Patrol broke ground there in recent days to build a four-mile stretch of wall, many in the community were upset.
“It’s the worst place we want to see a fence,” the Catholic Church’s Bishop of El Paso Mark Seitz whined, calling the wall — 18 feet high, composed of steel bollards — “a scar on our land.”
Customs and Border Protection says the wall, whose construction began Sept. 22, is necessary because the El Paso sector is seeing an increase in the number of illegal immigrant apprehensions. The see-through bollard wall will replace existing chain-link fencing that runs beside Chihuahuita, one of El Paso’s oldest neighborhoods, founded in 1818.
CBP said in a press release that seeing into Mexico “has proved beneficial to the Border Patrol to detect illegal entries, the smuggling of narcotics into the United States by providing situational awareness of activity south of the wall.”
Bringing families together
Community groups had planned — and gotten permits for — “Hugs Not Walls” events and a cross-border mass for October and early November at the point where the Rio Grande River bends through downtown.
Fernando García, director of the Border Network for Human Rights, said his group “conceived of Hugs not Walls to bring together those immediate family members separated by immigration policies. Bring them together at the middle of the Rio Grande River, and especially at the river bend, where it is mostly dry, because the water is canalized, and bring them together for a few minutes so they can embrace and hug.”
The event has brought together 1,200 families for an embrace on five occasions since 2016, García said. Some 200 families had made reservations for the Oct. 13 event. He said the group wouldn’t cancel, but has not found a new location.
García said the network has been working with the Border Patrol for 15 years to build trust and community relations. At the end of last year, García said Border Patrol asked him to submit dates for Hugs not Walls for 2018, which he did.
Two weeks ago, Border Patrol came to us and wanted us to resubmit the request and there was no clear reason why, so I asked. They did not tell us anything about border walls. Nothing. Then we accepted it. … So they called us just a few days after and out of courtesy just before they did their press conference, they told us Hugs not Walls was not going to happen because they were going to start the construction of the border wall,” García said.
The downtown portion of the wall is scheduled for completion in April 2019.
Mass moved back behind fence
The wall construction in the canal has also forced the binational mass to be moved to its previous location, a place divided by a fence between Anapra in Juarez and Sunland Park in New Mexico.
As for San Diego, construction there is already underway:
A 14-mile section of President Trump’s border wall is under construction in San Diego, at a cost of $147 million.
The money comes from the omnibus spending bill that Trump signed in March. The legislation included a $1.6 billion down payment on the “great, great” wall that – Trump promised throughout his presidential campaign – would stretch across the nation’s southern border.
The San Diego wall will reach up to 30 feet high, topped with a sheer vertical “anti-climbing plate” that offers no hand- or footholds for illicit border crossers.
It will replace a long stretch of 8-to-10-foot-high metal fencing that was built in the 1990s out of scrap metal and repurposed steel plates. Rusted and wobbly in places, the old wall has been no match for drug smugglers and human traffickers.
Instead of waiting for a comprehensive bill funding a new wall, President Trump is doing what a businessman does: making the best use of the limited resources at his disposal.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
October 2nd, 2018