US border control: 'Construction of the border wall is underway'

US border control: 'Construction of the border wall is underway'
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection declared Friday that "construction of the border wall is underway," describing replacement fencing — including a two-mile strip on the border of Calexico, Calif. — as part of the Trump administration’s border wall system.

“We’re on track to replace 20 miles of primary vehicle barrier in Santa Teresa, New Mexico,” Ronald Vitiello, the acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told reporters. “Ground breaking is scheduled for early April.”

Vitiello said that 14 miles of steel plate barrier will be replaced in San Diego and characterized a new 30-foot barrier extending two miles in Calexico as part of the new border wall system because it replaces outdated barriers, The New York Times reported.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpHealth insurers Cigna, Humana waive out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus treatment Puerto Rico needs more federal help to combat COVID-19 Fauci says April 30 extension is 'a wise and prudent decision' MORE issued a tweet this week touting the Calexico project as part of his proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, despite the project being a priority for U.S. officials since 2009.

He also asserted during a speech to union workers in Richfield, Ohio, on Thursday that his administration has "started building our wall. I’m so proud of it."

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers The 'accidental director' on the front line of the fight for election security MORE clarified that the photos the president shared in his tweet were part of the Calexico project.

Various barriers, including fencing and steel walling, currently stretch over more than 650 miles of the southern border. Vitiello said the administration aims to set up fencing or a wall along 1,000 miles of the southern border.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration got $1.6 billion for border security as part of a massive spending bill. While there are some restrictions on how the money can be used, it can go toward new technology and border repairs.

Trump made construction of a border wall a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He had claimed the wall was needed to curb illegal immigration, terrorism and drug trafficking.

The president said the wall, which he originally said Mexico would pay for, was projected to cost $25 billion over $10 years. Trump has recently discussed the idea of having the military pay for some of the wall.