The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) held a press conference on Thursday to celebrate the construction of 400 miles of a new border wall system along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“In January, we reached 100 miles. In June, we reached 200 miles. In August, we reached 300 miles. And today I’m proud to stand before you along with the men and women of CBP and the Army Corps of Engineers to celebrate the construction of nearly 400 miles of border wall system,” said acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.
The press conference was held in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), an area that Brian Hastings, the chief patrol agent for the sector, says has “historically been very difficult to secure.”
In the past fiscal year, 22 percent of all illegal immigrant apprehensions along the southern border and 42 percent of all border patrol narcotics seizures occurred in the RGV sector.
Hastings said that almost 10 years ago, “the installation of border wall technology in the eastern corridor near Brownsville, Texas significantly reduced illegal border crossings and narcotic trafficking.”
According to Hastings, the improvements in that area led to smugglers and traffickers moving westward, where they have more easily been able to skirt border enforcement.
Last September, CBP signed three contracts for the construction of 65 miles of border wall system in the RGV, which was to include “an 18-30 foot tall steel bollard wall, all-weather roads, lighting, enforcement cameras, and other related technology to create a complete enforcement zone.”
Officials are optimistic that the latest additions to the border wall system will help law enforcement allocate their resources more efficiently.
“The wall system allows our agents to pick their battleground by forcing smugglers, traffickers, and other criminals to pass through areas that are easier to surveil or through ports of entry where we have resources and personnel there to interdict,” said Wolf.
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan emphasized the same point, but framed it in context of his social media post yesterday that was censored by Twitter.
“[We] continue to build new wall everyday. Every mile helps us stop gang members, murderers, sexual predators, and drugs from entering our country. It’s a fact, walls work,” Morgan had tweeted alongside a video of wall construction.
Twitter locked Morgan’s account for violating rules against “hateful conduct,” which read that users “may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”
On Wednesday, when Morgan’s tweet was censored and his account locked, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was in a hearing on Capitol Hill where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) sharply condemned the social media company for its censorship practices.
Morgan’s account was reportedly unlocked on Thursday, but the tweet in question was still unavailable to view on the platform.
“Twitter is out of control in their clear bias against this administration and their blatant censorship of anything that may go against the policies of those who sit in cubicles in Silicon Valley,” said Morgan in a statement on Thursday. “This censorship goes against the very ideas this great Nation was founded on, and the rights that many men and women have given their lives to preserve.”
Morgan and Wolf both lauded President Trump and his administration for enacting policies to strengthen border security, including the construction of the new border wall system.
“While the Trump administration took decisive action leading to a drop in numbers throughout the late 2019 and early 2020, those numbers are beginning to increase again. Illegal immigration is trending up over this time last year, and if current trends hold, October could likely be one of the highest months of illegal crossings in some time,” said Wolf.
Statistics from DPS show that the number of border apprehensions declined steadily last fall after the record highs in 2019, a trend which continued throughout the first portion of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, apprehensions have been climbing since May and are back above the levels seen at this point last year.
Morgan has previously noted that a shift in immigration has occurred since last year, with fewer people traveling from Central American families. This year, CBP has seen an increase in the number of single adult Mexican men.
In addition to the 400 completed miles of the new border wall system, Wolf said that another 210 miles are still under construction and that a total of 450 miles are expected to be constructed by the end of the year.
CBP says that they are making progress on about 10 miles of construction per week.
“While some politicians and members of the press continue to question the need of a border wall system for political reasons, its effectiveness is without question,” said Wolf.
A map of the planned border wall system can be found below.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.