The structures are about 30-feet tall and at least six feet deep, and are currently being tested for durability and evaluated for other features such as aesthetics.
That’s from Carlos Diaz, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and it describes a year’s worth of “progress” on Trump’s Mexican-be-gone border wall promise.
Just to reinforce the extent to which this has gone absolutely nowhere, here’s a fun picture that shows you the current state of the “big beautiful wall”:
There you go. That’s the long and the short of it – with an emphasis on “short.” Eight prototypes and a bunch of people standing around in the middle of the desert.
“We have a lot of help from the Border Patrol and from the ICE agents,” Trump said last week at a cabinet meeting, adding that “we want vision, we want to be able to see through who is on the other side of the wall, and we have some wonderful prototypes that have been put up.”
That is of course a reference to one of the most hilarious things Trump has ever said while occupying the Oval Office. Recall this actual transcript that documents the President’s response to a question from a reporter aboard Air Force One who asked if Trump was joking when he famously suggested he was going to build the wall out of solar panels:
Question: You were joking about solar, right?
Trump: No, not joking, no. There is a chance that we can do a solar wall. We have major companies looking at that. Look, there’s no better place for solar than the Mexico border — the southern border. And there is a very good chance we can do a solar wall, which would actually look good. But there is a very good chance we could do a solar wall.
One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it. In other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.
And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over.
As cray as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. But we have some incredible designs.
Again, that is the official transcript which means that either Donald Trump actually used the pop culture term “cray” or they mistyped it – either way, it’s hilarious.
But the truly amusing part of that is obviously the contention that people on “our” side of the wall are getting killed by flying sacks of heroin and that the problem can be mitigated by a see-through wall.
When last we checked in on this is farce, things weren’t going well. “People are still going to cross no matter what is there,” Kevin Ávila Rodríguez, 17, who recycles trash and lives near the spot where the border wall prototypes are being built told the Washington Post, adding that “this won’t change things much.”
Right. And here’s the Post underscoring just that:
One irony of building these brawny prototypes at this location is that San Diego has long demonstrated the weakness of walls. Nowhere is more famous for its sophisticated border tunnels than this industrial sprawl near the Otay Mesa border crossing. The drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, now imprisoned in New York, disrupted the narcotics trade by building “super-tunnels” here that were dozens of feet deep, equipped with elevators and ventilation and lighting, to move vast amounts of cocaine into California. Seven tunnels of various sizes have been identified by the San Diego sector of the Border Patrol just this year.
The ground here, as one U.S. official put it, “is like Swiss cheese.”
Meanwhile, the construction effort itself has reportedly been plagued by boondoggles and buffoonery. For instance, six Mexicans actually jumped a nearby fence and accidentally landed in the construction zone:
Even these big warning slabs of concrete, the teeming construction site, and police and helicopters patrolling both sides of the border weren’t enough to stop a half-dozen would-be migrants from hopping the existing fence this month and landing smack in the middle of the project, according to U.S. border officials.
And while construction eventually got going in earnest, things got off to a decidedly rocky start:
Trump has pledged that the border wall will stop illegal immigrants and drugs. CBP officials, however, said the walls under consideration would likely not go deep enough to block large, sophisticated tunnels.
On the second day of prototype construction, a worker for one of the companies involved fell backward into what CBP spokesman Ralph DeSio described as a “40-foot-deep hole,” although this was unrelated to drug tunnels and it did not result in injuries. “It wasn’t a good first step,” he said.
If you were wondering how this was going, the answer is this: just like you might imagine it would be going.
As for whether this is ever going to get built, the answer is clearly “no.” Here are a couple of excerpts from a Bloomberg piece out Tuesday, which quotes the above-mentioned Carlos Diaz:
After the evaluation phase, which began at the end of November and is scheduled to take at least 30 days, the department will decide on a final design, Diaz said.
“We’re talking about engineers and scientists and border patrol agents providing their input on what works best,” he said. “Based on that, there’s going to be a recommendation in the future.”
But Congress hasn’t appropriated any funding for continuing the project next year, and there is no timeline for when the border wall might be constructed.
“Everything we do in 2018 will require an appropriation,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello told reporters in October after the prototypes were completed. CBP requested $1.6 billion in 2018 funding for the border wall. The House passed a budget with the funding but the measure hasn’t been approved by the Senate.
So for anyone who bought into this ridiculous idea when Trump was shrieking about it on the campaign trail, now you’re learning why everyone with any sense told you it was so far-fetched as to be laughable. Here’s what UVA presidential historian Barbara Perry told Bloomberg for the piece linked above:
I’m not surprised, that a year into his presidency, we say ‘Gee, why hasn’t that wall been built?’ Well that was one of those things that was so outrageous that it was never going to happen.
Got that? It is never going to happen. Period.
Given that reality, “we’re going to have a lot of very unhappy people – starting with Trump”…