I'm Jon Hotchkiss. I host the show Be Less Stupid -- think The Daily Show meets Popular Science. So, the idea of the proposed border wall made me furious; won't work, too expensive, stupid, cruel, I could go on... Anyway, I called up the Department of Homeland Security and US Customs and Border Protection because I wanted to know more, so they invited me to come see the proposed new border walls for myself.
I went to Otay Mesa, south of San Diego, on Tuesday, October 18. Five of the proposed 8 prototype walls are now complete. The other 3 will be done by the end of October. During November and December, the walls will be tested; can you break through it? Tunnel under it? Get over it?
Four of the walls are made of concrete and four are made of a material that is NOT concrete. Some of the prototypes have to have a see through section so border agents can see what's on the other side.
On Wednesday October 18th, I WENT BACK to the construction site. Only this time, I went from the Mexico side, in Tijuana. After entering Mexico, I found a taxi driver, his name is Manuel. I paid him $180 dollars to drive me around for a few hours. Our first stop was the prototype walls. Our second stop? A hardware store about 1 mile from the border.
In the hardware store, I asked for their tallest ladder. They had a 32 foot tall one. Which is 2 feet taller than the proposed NEW border walls.
Manuel (the taxi driver), Jorge (from the store) and I set up the ladder against the wall outside the store, which is nearly the same height (what a great coincidence) as the new proposed border walls.
With a pick up truck like this one, it would be easy to drive around with this ladder (on the Mexico side) and lay it against the wall and climb over. It's not against the law to escape from Mexico.
*Note, the US has nearly 2000 miles of border with Mexico. The San Diego sector has 62 linear miles of border with Mexico.
I didn't get all the way to the top because I'm scared of heights. But, you get the idea.
I also spent the part of the day with Eduardo Olmos, a U.S. border patrol agent. The part of Tijuana seen in the above photo is right on the U.S. border (the corrugated metal along the bottom of the photo is the actual border). This is Tijuana’s poorest community. They have little access to running water, electricity or garbage pickup. Garbage is just tossed over the fence (lower right). Many of the roofs are just sheets of plywood covered by a cloth, held down by old tires.
Manuel told me the border patrol in San Diego sector catches 70 people a day on average. You’d think the number would be a lot higher, given what they’re running away from.
*Note: We are standing in a zone that’s about 50 yards wide, give or take. Behind me is ANOTHER fence, much taller, that has a mesh pattern and a cantilevered section on top. Border agents monitor this zone with cameras and radar. If there’s a breach of the low metal wall in the distance, they try to get to the illegals BEFORE they cut through the taller fence behind me.
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Jon Hotchkiss is a 14-time Emmy nominee and host of Be Less Stupid.