And the prototypes have fallen.
"I'm going to build a big wall and nobody builds it better than me, believe me – and I'll build it very cheaply. I will build a big wall on our southern border and I will charge Mexico for this wall. Listen to me carefully."
We marked his words. But the wall was not built and this week the government is demolishing eight prototypes of a new wall that has been languishing for months in the Southern California border desert.
They were used dramatically as a backdrop for a presidential visit last March and for artistic events.
The administration stated that the "elements" of the prototypes had been "merged" with the current conceptions of border barriers and that the prototypes had "served their purpose" no matter what it meant.
"I will pay Mexico for this wall," Trump had said several times. A record government shutdown, a national emergency declaration and modest crowdfunding efforts by Republicans later, not a kilometer from the new wall desired by Trump was built. Some sections along the US-Mexico border, more than 1,900 kilometers long, have been renovated or improved.
And as confirmed by actress Maya Rudolph in her first moments on stage with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler presenting the Oscars 2019 on Sunday, the president's dream wall will clearly not be funded by Mexico.
The sight of the prototypes that were falling into dust made things even clearer this week. The structures were dismantled the same week the House of Representatives voted in favor of blocking Trump 's national emergency declaration in order to obtain additional funding for what he now calls the barrier. . they would like to call it ".
The US Department of Homeland Security reallocated $ 20 million from its budget in February 2017, a month after Trump took office, to pay for eight prototypes erected south of San Diego, a few meters from the border with Tijuana, Mexico, as well as smaller scale models. further that have already been dismantled.
The prototypes varied each according to the angle of inclination, the thickness and the curves. The commercial guidelines in effect had required them to resist punishment, hammer, pickaxe, torch, chisel or battery operated tools, and to prevent the use of climbing aids such as grapples.
Except that a government report obtained by KPBS revealed the opposite. "The heavily redacted government documents reveal that each model was deemed vulnerable to at least one violation technique," KPBS reported.
And, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the eight model sections were riddled with design and construction flaws. The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tested the slabs and found that they could be broken.
On Wednesday, slabs of seven of the eight prototypes fell into a cloud of dust in less than two hours, with no match for a jackhammer. At the point of destruction, an owl escaped from a steel tube placed at the top of a section.
Public access to the prototypes had been blocked on the San Diego side.
But in Tijuana, activist artists led by the Backbone campaign projected images and slogans about the prototypes, with messages such as "Refugees Welcome Here" and "Statue of Liberty".
"The Trump wall is a false solution to a non-existent problem. It is wasting resources to satisfy the irrational fears, xenophobia and racism of its political base, "Bill Moyer, executive director of the Backbone campaign, told reporters Thursday.
"If you're building a 30-foot wall, someone will build a 30-foot ladder," said Lawrence Pierce, who was part of the Artistic protest team that projected a huge image of the city. a ladder on a prototype.