EL PASO, Texas - During negotiations to end the partial shutdown of the federal government, President Donald Trump has increasingly backed away from his request for a "border wall."
In recent weeks, the president has often referred to the wall as a "smart border barrier" with "see-through" walls.
ABC-7 rode along with Border Patrol agents Friday for a closeup look at the existing barriers currently in place along the border in the El Paso sector.
The Border Patrol told ABC-7 that 184 out of the 264 miles of border in the El Paso sector have some sort of barrier.
There are four different types of barrier: a bollard barrier, a double mesh steel barrier, legacy chain link fencing and vehicle barriers.
Vehicle barriers are often used in remote areas. "It's not intended to stop people, because in this area, we'll still have time to respond to people crossing," said Border Patrol Supervisor Jose Romero.
In the urban areas of the Borderland, like Downtown El Paso, a barrier is vital, said Romero. It provides Border Patrol with an extra couple of minutes to deploy resources to areas where illegal activity has been detected.
Romero said the existing barriers are not only meant to keep people out, but also alive. “Just north of this barrier is that canal and the majority of loss of life that happens for the El Paso Sector is in these canals," said Romero, "So if we can put up a barrier that can keep people out - children, elderly, injured or anybody in general - keep them out of that water way, that is a huge life-saving experience there."
Right now, a four mile stretch of legacy chain link fencing in El Paso is being replaced with a bollard style barrier.
"While this (chain link fence) served a purpose for a while, the next evolution is this bollard barrier. Some people might say 'well, we've had enough security,' but they tend to forget a lot of things that used to happen and the Border Patrol does not forget the past. We learn from the past," said Romero. "We understand what's happening right now and we look to the future. So for us, good enough is not good enough."
Romero said that while ordinary fencing may have worked in the 70s, 80s and 90s, what is needed now is the "next evolution of security."
"As long as people are determined to keep crossing, whether it's people or drugs or anything else, then we need to keep finding ways to improve our ability to prevent that," Romero said.
The Border Patrol said it began installing legacy fencing with bollard style barriers in August 2018. It hopes to replace all of the chain link fencing by April 2019.