A Department of Homeland Security test of a steel border barrier prototype showed that the material can be cut through with a saw, NBC News reported Thursday.
A DHS photo obtained by NBC News showed the damage to the “steel slat” barrier being pushed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem strategist says party's leaders struggle to relate to Americans Mexican president staying out of wall debate, calling it an internal US matter China vows to buy 'substantial amount' of American goods and services, US trade agency says MORE as the partial government shutdown drags into its 20th day.
The photo shared Thursday by NBC News was from late 2017 and was detailed in an internal February 2018 report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Trump inspected the prototypes the month after this report. Similar structures have been used at the border by past administrations.
In the test, according to NBC News, Marine Corps experts were told to attempt to breach the prototypes with common tools.
A test of the steel prototype for the border wall showed it could be sawed through, NBC News reports. https://t.co/j3qDZ5OQkw— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) January 10, 2019
San Diego public radio station KPBS in September shared a redacted copy of the report showing that the prototypes could be breached, but it did not include photos of the damage.
Ralph DeSio, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, told KPBS at the time that the prototypes "were not and cannot be designed to be indestructible," but were made to “impede or deny efforts to scale, breach, or dig under such a barrier, giving agents time to respond."
DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman told The Hill that the design of the wall currently under construction was “informed” by the prototypes, but “does not replicate those designs.”
“The steel bollard design is internally reinforced with materials that require time and multiple industrial tools to breach, thereby providing US Border Patrol agents additional response time to affect a successful law enforcement resolution,” Waldman said.
She added that a damaged steel bollard can be repaired quickly and cost-effectively, and said a barrier being breached allows Border Patrol agents more time to respond to the entry attempt.
“The professionals on the border know that a wall system is intended not only to prevent entry, it is intended to defer and to increase the amount of time and effort it takes for one to enter so that we can respond with limited border patrol agents,” Waldman said. “Even a wall that is being breached is a valuable tool in that it allows us to respond to the attempted illegal entry.”
The government shutdown began late last month, triggered by an impasse between Trump and Democrats over funding for the wall. The president is demanding the inclusion of $5.7 billion in the spending bill to fund the wall's construction, but Democrats have refused to cave, offering $1.3 billion for border security measures.
Since the shutdown began, Trump has backed away from demands for a concrete wall, pushing instead for a “steel slat” barrier because, he said, Democrats “don’t like concrete.”
In December, he shared an illustration of the proposed “Steel Slat Barrier” which he called “totally effective while at the same time beautiful!”
The president is scheduled to visit the border again later Thursday.
— Updated 11:15 a.m.