Meet the new San Diego border barrier, just behind the old San Diego border barrier

Two layers of fencing, one covered in concertina wire, follow a road near the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego on Aug. 16, 2017./Brandon Quester.inewsource

It’s kind of like a bait-and-switch along 14 miles of San Diego border barrier, or maybe similar to the new and improved status sometimes awarded to reconstituted cereal brands.

Or call it peaches, as President Trump said for all he cared in early January.

You know how some people double wrap leftover food. Using previously allocated border funds, the Trump Administration was double-wrapping the border this week.

Construction began Monday on a second layer of barrier along the San Diego border with Mexico. This consisted of the first panels with steel bollards 18-to-30 feet high replacing a steel-mesh fence in back of a 30-foot-high steel bollard barrier, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials. The steel posts will topped with a steel anti-climbing plate.

The poles will replace eight- to 10-foot tall scraps of corrugated Vietnam War-era metal installed at the border during the 1990s to prevent pedestrian and vehicles crossings. The scraps needed to be replaced with a “higher performing design,” according to CBP.

The project area begins roughly one half-mile from the Pacific Ocean and extends eastward to the base of Otay Mountain. Other projects are underway in Calexico and New Mexico, where two-mile and 20-mile stretches of border, respectively, are being upgraded, according to City News Service.

The first layer of steel-mesh fencing worked fairly well when it was built about a decade ago. However, it now is often breached with powerful battery-operated saws sold at home improvement stores. Border Patrol agents said some tools enabled crossers to cut through the fence in 20 seconds. An average of 540 cuts were made in the fence per year, agents said.

Trump inherited barriers covering about one-third of the border. His administration has awarded $1 billion in contracts to cover 97 miles, the vast majority of it to replace existing barriers. Work on his first extension is scheduled to begin later this month — 14 miles in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

The Border Patrol issued a news release falsely asserting that the San Diego construction was part of the Trump Administration’s proposed “border wall.”

The bollards — basically vertical posts, shorter versions mainly are used in road traffic control — were constructed by SLSCO Ltd. of Galveston, Texas under a $147 million contract awarded last December. That contract was awarded as part of $166.8 million in fiscal 2018 omnibus funds for work in San Diego, Calexico and Tecate by the company.

This was part of a March 2018 funding bill, passed with support from both parties, provided $1.6 billion to build a system that included replacements and new barriers, including levees, steel bollards with narrow spacing between each post and, in some locations, both concrete walls and bollards.

The lawmakers’ language was notably narrow, limiting the administration to using existing barrier designs instead of the new wall prototypes Trump had built in San Diego near the border, according to Associated Press.

NBC News reported in January that prototypes along the San Diego border were found to be easily breached as well. KPBS  shared a redacted copy of the report showing that the prototypes could be breached, but it did not include photos of the damage.  A test of the steel prototype for the border wall showed it could be sawed through, NBC News reported,

Ralph DeSio, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, told KPBS at the time that the prototypes “were not and cannot be designed to be indestructible,” but were made to “impede or deny efforts to scale, breach, or dig under such a barrier, giving agents time to respond.”

Work crews preparing to replace the existing, Vietnam War era fencing infrastructure near Border Field State Park, San Diego, California May 31, 2018/US Border Patrol

DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman told The Hill that the design of the wall currently under construction was “informed” by the prototypes, but “does not replicate those designs.”

“The steel bollard design is internally reinforced with materials that require time and multiple industrial tools to breach, thereby providing US Border Patrol agents additional response time to affect a successful law enforcement resolution,” Waldman said.

She added that a damaged steel bollard can be repaired quickly and cost-effectively, and said a barrier being breached allows Border Patrol agents more time to respond to the entry attempt.

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