U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a statement to the Daily Mail Thursday that contradicts President Trump's past claims that his administration has "already built large new sections" of the wall, but said they'll be getting to work very soon.
The CBP confirmed to the Daily Mail that no new sections of border wall have been built under the Trump administration; instead, existing walls have been renovated, supplemented, or replaced. "The first new wall project, where no barrier currently exists, is anticipated to start in April," CBP spokesman Roger Maier told the outlet in an email.
"He identified Hidalgo County as the construction project's location, a border zone along a meandering 50-mile stretch of the Rio Grande," the Daily Mail reports. "CBP said last year that it was 'designing and constructing approximately 25 miles of levee wall system' in that county, whose anchor is the the border city of McAllen."
The debate over how much "new wall" has or hasn't been put up revolves around some past assertions by Trump, who has used the term "new" ambiguously. "I will say, we've done a lot of renovation," Trump said when visiting the border on January 11, the Mail notes. "And we have a lot of new wall going up where we took down wall because it was in such bad shape, and we put new wall up." In that case, Trump clearly meant "new" replacement walls. But in one tweet he cited his administration as having "already built large new sections," as well as renovations.
"The Fake News Media keeps saying we haven’t built any NEW WALL," he said in another tweet with a photo of wall construction. "Below is a section just completed on the Border. Anti-climbing feature included. Very high, strong and beautiful! Also, many miles already renovated and in service!"
On Thursday, the Senate voted against Trump's national emergency declaration intended to direct funds to constructing new sections of the border wall. Trump made clear before the vote that he'd veto any Senate resolution undoing his order.
"A big National Emergency vote today by The United States Senate on Border Security & the Wall (which is already under major construction). I am prepared to veto, if necessary. The Southern Border is a National Security and Humanitarian Nightmare, but it can be easily fixed!" Trump tweeted Thursday ahead of the vote. "The Democrats are 'Border Deniers.' They refuse to see or acknowledge the Death, Crime, Drugs and Human Trafficking at our Southern Border!"
After the Senate voted 59-41 against the national emergency declaration, Trump issued a pair of tweets. The first was particularly concise: "VETO!" he wrote, adding in a follow-up tweet: "I look forward to VETOING the just passed Democrat inspired Resolution which would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs, and Trafficking in our Country. I thank all of the Strong Republicans who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL!"