SAN DIEGO — As the Pentagon notified Congress that it has authorized $1 billion to begin new wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border, FOX 5 took a look at the infrastructure already in place in San Diego and how it has changed over the years.
U.S. Border Patrol calls the security measures in place along the border a “border infrastructure system.”
“A wall agents, agents, technology, cameras and roads to maintain the wall,” said Border Patrol agent Justin Castrejon.
Alone, each of those tactics wouldn’t be enough, but together they create what currently keeps our San Diego sector of the U.S.-Mexico border secure.
“A lot of times you’ll hear people say well, once you put a wall, we can have the agents sort of vacate. That will definitely not happen,” Castrejon said.
The story of a wall at the border goes back well before 2019. The first call for a barrier was answered in the early 1990s, with a landing pad, Vietnam War-era fence.
However, agents found the design problematic. They couldn’t see through it and it’s been very common for people to drive a car straight through it and into the U.S.
Within the last two years, the landing pads began to come down and the updated primary wall went up. Still, defense officials saw a need for more.
A secondary wall was put in place in the early 2000s. Within just the last three years, agents say it has been breached nearly 2,000 times, which is visible by all the areas it has had to be repaired.
In February 2018, work on a new secondary wall began. The new design is taller, stronger and much harder to leave compromised. It’s currently being built and construction is expected to finish by the start of 2020.
“It’s going to be made out of steel, filled with concrete,” Castrejon said.
It’s similar to the existing primary wall design, which stretches for 14 miles before it drops off at Otay Mountain.
San Diego’s Border Patrol agents can’t speculate on what kind of effect a complete wall spanning the entire border, like President Donald Trump is proposing, would have. But they can say it has had a positive impact for their ultimate mission: protecting the citizens of the United States.
“We are able to have that definitive line and establish law and order in the area for both Tijuana and the communities in San Diego, San Ysidro and all those surrounding cities,” Castrejon said.