The Homeland Security secretary aggressively tamped down on expectations for President Donald Trump’s endlessly hyped border wall Thursday, saying that concrete barrier would only be constructed along a fraction of the U.S. border with Mexico.
“I foresee there being an increase in physical barrier, backed up by the men and women of CBP, Customs and Border Protection, and technology,” Secretary John Kelly told Bloomberg’s David Gura Thursday. “There are places along the border, and I would offer to you, down in the southern Rio Grande valley, where a wall, a concrete wall, makes all the sense in the world.”
“There are other places where a see-through wall, say a large bollard, if you will, fence, makes a lot of sense,” he said. “There’s places, probably, we won’t build a wall, because it’s across river beds, and we can’t dam up the rivers. And there’s other places that are just so rough — you know, the Big Bend area of Texas, canyons, high ground, low ground. Very little moves through there, anyways. So we are all still committed to a barrier, wall in some in places, in some places see-through wall, but once again, technology, and backed up by CBP.”
In February, Fox News’ Catherine Herridge reported that Kelly had told her the wall “will take a multi-layered approach. There will be the physical wall and then parts of the wall that you can see through because it will rely on sensors and other technology.”
“Any discussion about the protection of our southwest border involves discussion, clearly, of physical barriers, but also of technological sensors, things like that. It’s a layered approach,” Kelly told her at the time.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in March that at some points along the border, “border control’s actually telling us that they like the one you can see through, because it reduces the number of violent attacks on our folks. So it’s a complicated program.”
Trump, meanwhile, has not backed down from his campaign pledge of a “beautiful” concrete wall, not a fence, along the entire border. After early murmurs that a stopgap government funding bill would not including funding for a wall, Trump tweeted his support for the campaign pledge:
Don't let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2017
Asked if he thought the barrier could be completed for Trump’s projected sum, under $10 billion (though the President has not been consistent on this number), Kelly didn’t commit one way or the other.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I wouldn’t disagree with that number. But he’s a businessman. He, like me, we’ve not gotten specific, because we don’t know yet, because we haven’t done the specifics on wall design, what it will take to acquire land, that kind of thing. But these estimates of $30, 40 billion, I mean, I don’t know what it will cost, yet, and the people that are putting that out are just dreaming.”
Watch below via Bloomberg: