Border wall going up in Calexico to replace aging structure

CALEXICO, Calif. (KABC) -- A new wall is going up along the U.S.-Mexico border replacing an old section of the existing border wall.

The improvement project, which began in late February, will span 2.25 miles and replace a section of the wall constructed in the late 1990s out of Vietnam War-era landing mats.

"In this area, we've experienced a lot of border crossings and the activity that comes with that," said Justin Castrejon with U.S. Custom and Border Patrol. "A lot of illicit border activity, including human smuggling, drug smuggling and any violence that may come because of that."

The new 30-foot steel bollard fencing is not part of President Donald Trump's planned wall. Congress has yet to fund the president's campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S. Southern border that will cost an estimated $18 billion, nor does it use the prototype designs ordered by Trump.

But the funding and environmental waivers were approved under the Trump administration.

"This project started back in 2009. The planning, the need for it, and we just got the funding last year in 2017 to start the project," Castrejon said.

The new wall will be an additional 12-feet tall, and more importantly, Border Patrol agents will be able to see through it to the other side.

"It is very important for us. We are able to see the threats as they come to the border to allow us more time to deploy our assets, if necessary," Castrejon said.

While illegal crossings are down overall, the area continues to be active. Last year, Border Patrol's El Centro sector detained more than 18,000 people. At the same time, it recorded 21 assaults on its agents.

"It is not uncommon for people to throw rocks over the fence, bricks, Molotov bottles - anything to distract or try and gain an advantage on us," Castrejon said.

The project which will cost $18 million is expected to be completed in mid-October.
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