Democrats say they blocked funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall. The White House says the $1.5 billion in new border-security funds is just as good. Newsy
One of the most vivid illustrations about the need for a stronger wall along the Southwest U.S. border came this week from Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. Only it’s not quite accurate.
During Tuesday’s press briefing, he stood before reporters gesturing at a picture displayed on screens behind him. The image showed a seemingly endless steel-bollard fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, 20 feet tall.
It glistened in the sun, and was almost double the height of a porous chain-link fence in front of it.
“This doesn’t stop drugs and doesn’t stop criminals from crossing the border, in fact it doesn’t stop hardly anything from crossing the border,” Mulvaney said, pointing to the chain-link fence.
Then motioning to the bollard fence: “This does, and that’s what we got in this deal.”
Viewers could be forgiven for believing that the part of the U.S.-Mexico border in the picture had been secured by a chain-link fence, and that the Trump administration was replacing it with stronger, sturdier steel beams. In fact, many of the comments on a YouTube video of the briefing reflect that impression.
“We are building this now,” Mulvaney said, gesturing at pictures behind him. “There is money in this deal to build several hundred of millions of dollars of this, to replace this,” again referring to the two types of fencing in the photo. “That’s what we got in this deal and that’s what the Democrats don’t want you to know.”
When pressed, Mulvaney admitted he didn’t know where the photo was taken. Nonetheless, the budget director and Trump administration seemingly took credit in the following days for the construction work — even though it began under the presidency of Barack Obama.
By now, several media outlets have reported the location is in Sunland Park, New Mexico, a suburb of El Paso, and across from Ciudad Juarez. Those same reports also indicate the chain-link fence is not the actual barrier on the border, but rather part of a construction zone to replace and repair the bollard fencing.
A similar project is also underway in Arizona. In January, weeks before Trump’s inauguration, construction crews began to replace 7.5 miles of outdated wire mesh and landing-mat fence near the Naco port of entry, just south of Bisbee.
Customs and Border Protection said plans to replace the fence in Naco started nearly four years ago, and that Congress approved the funding for the project in the 2016 budget. It’s expected to be finished next month.
The spending bill Congress passed, and which Trump signed on Friday, does include $341 million that will be used to replace 40 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fencing and 35 levee gates in high-priority areas along the border.
The bill does not specify the location where the fencing and gates will be replaced. But the CBP has previously identified Texas’ Rio Grande Valley as the highest-priority area, along with the San Diego border.
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