September 27, 2018 500 AM
EL PASO – Construction began Saturday, September 22nd on a steel wall spanning just west of the Paso Del Norte international crossing and extending east to the Fonseca Road area in South El Paso, according to a CBP news release.
The four-mile, 18-foot-tall wall is a replacement and expansion of existing chain link fence and is part of President Trump’s Executive Order directing a wall to be built along the U.S. Mexico border. Completion of the project is anticipated in late April 2019. The estimated cost for this project is $22 million.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency news release promotes the project as an “…effective [barrier] to deny entry of illegal aliens and contraband.” Stating “El Paso Sector continues to experience a high number of apprehensions of illegal aliens and drug smuggling.”
CBP maintains, “…the ability to see through into Mexico is a concept supported by the steel bollard wall…”
However, residents of the surrounding El Paso neighborhoods are concerned about the loss of connectivity to Juarez, Mexico, and interruption to long held community traditions like the annual cross-border Catholic masses, as well as several yearly events that bring families from Mexico and the United States together for a short time, according to a Texas Tribune article.
Dozens of protestors were present during the press conference held by CBP announcing the wall last week. The El Paso County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 Monday on a resolution to oppose the project.
And Far West Texas state Senator José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, stated, “The border fence has always been an expensive waste of taxpayer money that does not enhance national security. The current administration’s plans to replace an already existing fence is ridiculous. We need smarter approaches to the border, with enforcement that targets true criminal threats while respecting its people and places. El Paso and other border communities are opportunities, not threats.”