While President Trump has backed off a threat to close the southern border in the near term over congressional Democrats’ inaction on illegal immigration, he still intends to highlight conditions there. On Friday, Mr. Trump traveled to Calexico, California, where he’ll be dropping by a section of what his administration is calling new fencing that will stop the surge of migrant families coming to the U.S. in recent months.
He tweeted Friday, “Will soon be landing in Calexico, California to look at a portion of the new WALL being built on our Southern Border,” and maintained that “within two years we will have close to 400 miles built or under construction.”
But the portion of fence that Mr. Trump is touring is a two-mile section that was a long-planned replacement for an older barrier, rather than “new” wall, despite what the president has asserted in recent days. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen marked the section with a plaque bearing Mr. Trump’s name last year.
“This plaque was installed on October 26, 2018, to commemorate the completion of the first section of President Trump’s border wall,” the plaque reads.
The southern border is nearly 2,000 miles long and already has about 650 miles of different types of barriers, including short vehicle barricades and tall, steel fences up to 30 feet high. Most of the fencing, however, was built during the administration of George W. Bush, and have been updated and maintained throughout other administrations.
Mr. Trump has yet to complete any new mileage of fencing or other barriers anywhere on the border. His administration has only replaced existing fencing, including the section he is touring Friday. Construction for that small section of fencing cost about $18 million, began in February 2018 and was completed in October. Plans to replace that fence date to 2009, during the beginning of President Barack Obama’s tenure.
Mr. Trump walked away from his border closure threat just days after he also abruptly postponed Republican efforts to work on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
After the border visit, Mr. Trump travels to Los Angeles, where he’ll attend a pair of fundraisers. Then, he’ll go to Las Vegas for another re-election fundraiser and an address to the Republican Jewish Coalition, which is backed by GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.