President Donald Trump stood proudly next to a border barrier between Mexico and California on Friday and promoted it as a section of his new wall. One problem: It’s a replacement barrier of a decades-old fence that was approved by the Obama administration.
The $18 million-dollar project Trump touted replaced a 2.25-mile section of a 1990s barrier made of steel from Vietnam War-era military aircraft landing mats with 30-foot bollards.
The Obama administration approved the upgrade in 2009. The project was funded and completed by the Trump administration last year — before any money had been allocated for the president’s wall.
When construction began in early 2018, border officials made clear that it wasn’t part of Trump’s wall.
“We just wanted to get out in front of it and let everybody know that this is a local tactical infrastructure project that was planned for quite some time,” David Kim, assistant chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector, told the Desert Sun at the time.
He added that he wanted to ensure that there is “no confusion about whether … this is tied to some of the bigger immigration debates that are currently going on.”
“This plaque was installed on October 26, 2018, to commemorate the completion of the first section of President Trump’s border wall,” it reads. The plaque includes the presidential seal, Trump’s name and several officials’ names.
Homeland Security officials at that time also stopped calling border barriers “fences” and started calling them “part of a border wall” or a “border wall system.”
Trump has long insisted that his barrier would be a “concrete wall” — and that it would be paid for by Mexico. He has declared a national emergency to build the wall, because Congress would not allocate funds for it.