The U.S. military is taking a more objective approach by putting various models through a series of tests over President Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall along America’s southern border.
According to The Associated Press, tactical units gauged the efficacy of different materials and designs. Information about those tests was provided by an anonymous military source who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
Eight different models of proposed walls have been constructed near the U.S-Mexico border in San Diego, California. Members of a Florida-based military unit reportedly worked alongside federal customs officials in recent weeks to rate design elements of these prototypes on a practical level.
Contractors were awarded between $300,000 and $500,000 for each prototype. Prototypes were built last fall to guide future construction of one of Trump’s signature campaign pledges. Four were concrete and four were made of other materials.
Ronald Vitiello, the agency’s acting deputy commissioner, said after visiting the prototypes in October that he was struck most by the 30-foot heights, which are significantly higher than existing barriers. Taller barriers are undoubtedly more effective, but whether the cost is justified will be up for debate.
Customs and Border Protection leaders were scheduled to be briefed on the findings this week amid intensifying discussions between the White House and Congress on immigration legislation to avert a government shutdown and renew protection for about 800,000 young immigrants who were temporarily shielded from deportation under an Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which is scheduled to end in March.
A proposal by Customs and Border Protection calls for spending $18 billion over 10 years to extend barriers to cover nearly half the border, though it is unclear if Trump supports that plan. The agency proposes 316 miles of additional barrier by September 2027, bringing total coverage to 970 miles. It also seeks 407 miles of replacement or secondary fencing.
Mexico has steadfastly rejected Trump’s demand that it pay for the wall.