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Homeland Security Marks Completion Of Border Wall Prototypes

October 26, 2017 1:21 p.m.

Homeland Security Marks Completion Of Border Wall Prototypes

GUEST:

Jean Guerrero, Fronteras reporter, KPBS

Related Story: Homeland Security Marks Completion Of Border Wall Prototypes

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Our top story and midday edition the prototypes for Donald Trump's border wall made their official debut today. For the last month construction crews have been working in the area and Otay Mesa on the eight prototypes. Today to the dashboard protection unveiled the walls and a working -- walking tour. Jean Guerrero is there. Give us a sense of what they look like.They're all about 30 feet tall. They're all the same shape but totally different colors and different textures and different materials. There is a brown one, a blue one, silver one and they are pretty impressive just starting right in front of the old fencing. They were erected in front of the old fencing that was built in the 1990s. So there are just they are three times higher in very -- you see them next to the primary fencing in a dwarf it. Some are made of concrete and others are made of -- they did not specify -- they just said they were non-Paul carry -- non-concrete options. Son you can see through them. A couple of them they are just these columns that are spaced apart and you can see through them but they are also slanted to protect patrol agents from things that are thrown at them.Since the wall was such a big part of his campaign, do we know if President Donald Trump will be coming to view the prototypes?We asked the deputy commissioner of the Department of Homeland Security if that would be the case and they were unable to answer that question. We still don't know if you will come down here.Local law enforcement prepared for protesters and demonstrations against the building of these prototypes. Those demonstrations never materialized. Do we know why?No, we don't. Some groups here have said that they have more important things to focus on right now. For example, the revoking of DACA. Their focus on other things that we don't know if there will be protesting the future for the construction of the wall but they started building these a month ago and before they started any construction, they erected this fence around the area to prepare to isolate the area and make sure that if there were any protest that the construction companies would be safe from any potential threats.These prototypes have been built here in San Diego, but because of the double and triple fencing, is the plan to erect new walls here or does this really applied to other unfenced areas of the border?The first component of construction on the wall is going to be real building the fence we have here. The primary fencing which is the one that is right across from the prototypes. You can see it it is the steel landing. It's basically recycled helicopters. They do plan to replace about 14 miles of that followed by a secondary fence the runs parallel to that. I asked the deputy commissioner if they plan to use the designs of the prototypes for that replacement and he wasn't sure but it seems like that might not be the case because they don't anticipate having finalize design until after they began reconstruction. The reconstruction that happens is going to be the first part of the wall but they don't know if it will look like any of these prototypes. They said that they don't plan to pick just one of these prototypes. They're not going to just pick the two -- blue one. They're going to make a composite taken in the best features of each one and also it's going to very across the landscape depending on the specific demands.Some show the wall could cost $38 billion. Isn't there still a question of how this wall project will get funded?That is right. They have allocated about $30 million for the prototype construction and the testing but as for construction on the wall itself, they are still waiting on funds. We have no idea where that money is going to come from. Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall and now they're requesting one $26 billion which is currently being delivered in Congress and hasn't been approved yet. Those would only be for the first component of construction but even that has yet to be approved.As you were on this tour I'm wondering what at home and security officials in custom and border patrol officials have to say about these prototypes and what perhaps they would do for border security?Unfortunately border patrol agents were not authorized to give interviews during the press conference. They wanted to kind of headed over to the deputy acting Commissioner and leave it up to him to give his comments. He said that what he found was so impressive was simply the scale of them, which was also that you see them in front of the primary fencing and they are so much bigger and he said something like the biggest thing that I was impressed by was how big they are. You can definitely see that.What happens next?The prototypes are going to be tested for anti-climbing and anti-digging. That testing is going to be conducted over 30 days on the prototypes that are here. Then a second phase of testing will test how easy it is to breach them so cutting torches or sauce and that will take place in a secret location. Smuggling organizations will not be able to see how the testing is progressing because that might give them ideas on how to overcome the barriers.Of somebody was listening to this want to go down to Otay Mesa and take a look, can we do that?No border patrol has close off the area to public traffic. If somebody is really curious they can go over to the Mexican side. The current fencing where the prototypes are is not that tall. So if you're in Mexico, you can look over at that fencing and check them out.I've been speaking with Fronteras reporter, KPBS , Jean Guerrero. Thank you so much.Thank you.