EL PASO, Texas - Construction for replacement of existing border fencing in El Paso with a new steel bollard wall will begin on Saturday, September 22, 2018 as part of President Donald Trump's Executive Order 13767, Customs and Border Protection announced Friday.
"We need effective barriers to deny the entry of illegal aliens and contraband," said Aaron A. Hull, the Chief Patrol Agent for the U.S. Border Patrol's El Paso Sector. Hull said "a balance of physical infrastructure, technology and personnel is key to securing the border and keeping our communities safe."
Opponents of the border wall project showed during a news conference Friday. An ACLU representative said the wall will push migrants to "dangerous and deadly parts of the desert."
"With new wall construction, that don't necessarily stop migration because they don't look at the root causes of migration, they just push migrants to more dangerous parts of the desert," said Cynthia Pompa, with the ACLU, "The bottom line here is that we don't want our taxpayer money invested in this construction that makes absolutely no sense for our binational communities."
CBP awarded a construction contract for the wall on June 1, 2018 to West Point Contractors, a company out of Tucson, Arizona. The contractor will replace a four-mile section of existing chain link and expanded metal fence beginning just west of the Paso Del Norte international crossing and extending east to the Fonseca Road area.
The $22-million construction project is expected to be completed in late April 2019.
CBP said the existing barrier will be removed and an 18 foot high steel bollard wall will be constructed in its place. A similar bollard wall barrier has already been erected in the desert area near Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
Federal officials said the steel bollard wall will give federal agents the ability to see through into Mexico, adding the "bollard design wall has proved beneficial to the Border Patrol to detect illegal entries and the smuggling of narcotics into the United States by providing situational awareness of activity south of the wall."
Friday, federal officials agents in the El Paso Sector continue to experience a "high number" of apprehensions of undocumentd immigrants and drug smuggling. In fiscal year 2017, agents in the El Paso Sector apprehended 25,193 undocumented immigrants, seized more than 34-thousand pounds of marijuana and 140 pounds of cocaine. Additionally, there were 54 assaults against El Paso Sector agents during the fiscal year, federal officials said.