A private group called "We Build the Wall" says they've finished construction on a segment of border wall in New Mexico, closing a gap in the existing border wall themselves rather than waiting for Congress and the President to come to an agreement over how to fund the massive construction project along the United States' southern border.
The Washington Times reports that We Build the Wall unveiled their half-mile section over the weekend.
"The 18-foot steel bollard wall is similar to the designs used by the Border Patrol, sealing off a part of the border that had been a striking gap in existing fencing," the Times says. The gap runs from the Texas border, where it ends at the Rio Grand, up through southern New Mexico along the "lower elevations" or Mount Cristo Rey.
We Build the Wall claims the half-mile section of steel wall is the first privately constructed part of the border wall, and that their project moved faster and, at $8 million, required less funding than a similar project headed up by the federal government. The group, led by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, also says they've got the blessing of President Donald Trump and United States Border Customs and Protection, who were grateful for the help.
"We’re closing a gap that’s been a big headache for them,” Kobach told reporters.
The half-mile segment of border wall, the group says, closes a gap frequently used to smuggle both people and drugs. Kobach added that on a "typical night" around 100 migrants and $100,000 worth of illegal narcotics passed through the half-mile hole.
The Trump Administration was working on a plan to construct around 234 miles of steel fencing, effectively sealing off the southern border with a "border wall," but attempts to secure funding for the project have stalled. Congress refused to agree to any funding for the border wall beyond the $1.6 billion promised in the 2018 budget, and President Donald Trump's "national emergency" declaration — which would have detoured funding to the border wall from other Army Corps of Engineers projects — was halted by a judge pending ongoing litigation.
Funding for the border wall has also taken a backseat to a more urgent need: funding for border processing. More than 100,000 migrants are presenting themselves at the United States' southern border per month now, and, forced by law to process anyone who requests asylum, the CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are now overwhelmed with detained immigrants.
Although the Trump administration officially ended the "catch and release" policies of the Obama administration, the federal government has reportedly — according to Politico — been shipping migrants who declare asylum to cities in Texas and California, far from the southern border, in order to relieve the stress on border patrol facilities.
"The Trump administration is flying migrants to San Diego and Del Rio, Texas, and busing them to El Centro, Calif., and Laredo, Texas, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official familiar with the plan," Politico says. "There, they are being processed — which includes photographs, health screenings, fingerprints and background checks — before they are often released and told to return for a court hearing at a later date."
The administration is also reportedly considering sending migrants to less populated areas in Florida and in the American southwest, in the hopes that, by personally relocating them, they're better able to track asylum seekers while they await their day in court.