Skip to main content

ALERT: KPBS Radio is undergoing scheduled upgrade work which may result in temporary signal outages.

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Border Agency Spokesman Says Wall Prototypes Didn’t Need Tunnel Tests

President Donald Trump reviews border wall prototypes in San Diego, Ca., Tues...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: President Donald Trump reviews border wall prototypes in San Diego, Ca., Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection told KPBS that border wall prototypes and mock-ups didn't need to be physically tested for resistance to tunneling because that capacity was apparent in their designs.

Earlier this week, KPBS published a government report showing that the barriers had not been tested for how well they resisted the digging of tunnels beneath them.

RELATED: Government Report Shows Border Wall Designs Can Be Broken

"All prototype designs met or exceeded anti-dig requirements specified in the Requests for Proposal," said spokesman Ralph DeSio. "It was not necessary to actually dig under them."

In October through December, the barriers were tested for resistance to breaching, scaling and more by military special forces, the Border Patrol Tactical Unit and other groups. All eight were deemed vulnerable to a certain breaching technique, according to the documents.

RELATED: US-Mexico Drug Tunnels Evolving Amid Increased Border Security

The prototypes were supposed to prevent digging or tunneling for a minimum of 6 feet below the lowest adjacent grade, according to government specifications for construction.

In a previous investigative series, KPBS and inewsource found border fence construction is correlated with the creation of illegal cross-border tunnels, used for drug and human smuggling. These tunnels tend to concentrate in areas with strong and layered fencing.

RELATED: America's Wall: Decades-Long Struggle To Secure US-Mexico Border

In San Diego, which has one of the most fortified borders with Mexico, more than 60 tunnels have been found since fencing construction began. One was 90 feet underground.

A government document obtained by KPBS showed tactical teams did not test border wall designs for tunneling resistance. Now a spokesman says such testing wasn’t necessary.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.