By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Existing border fence in Campo
September 27, 2017 (San Diego) – Construction of eight border wall prototypes, each costing up to a half million dollars, is now underway in Otay Mesa. After testing of alternative materials and designs built here, President Donald Trump aims to erect a wall along the entire U.S.- Mexico border at a cost of some $60 billion. But it is unclear why San Diego was chosen for the prototypes and many local officials have raised concerns.
San Diego’s City Council voted 5-3 to pass a resolution opposing the entire border wall, stating it would harm tourism and the environment. Port of San Diego Vice Chairman Rafael Castellanos, testifying at the Council meeting, predicted the project may come to be viewed as “the worst pork barrel project of all time.”
Supervisor Dianne Jacob has questioned why the prototypes are being built in San Diego. “This is a divisive time in our nation’s history and frankly, we already have a border fence in San Diego, so I’m not sure why we were targeted to build the prototypes, but it is what it is today,” she said.
On Tuesday, Supervisors voted to ban items that could be used as weapons including baseball bats, rocks and knives from areas near the prototypes where protests are anticipated.
U.S. Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Roy Villareal stating during a press briefing earlier this week, “We expect that there may be protesting, and we’re going to do everything to make sure that we provide that opportunity and maintain civility and lawfulness along the border here,” Times of San Diego reported.
The prototypes will include four made of concrete and four of other materials; the wall prototypes will range from 18 to 30 feet tall and all are being built and designed by out-of-state companies.
“Through the construction of these prototypes, we are partnering with industry to identify the best way to build new and replacement infrastructure along our border before we make more investments,” says Villareal, who called the groundbreaking a “significant milestone.” He could border security “an achievable objective” through a combination technology, infrastructure and law enforcement personnel.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed a lawsuit in San Diego on behalf of the state and the California Coastal Commission. The suit seeks to halt construction of the wall, arguing that it is illegal because Homeland Security would waive 37 federal laws and additional regulations, also violating state and local laws, to build the wall.