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America’s Border Wall: A Construction Timeline

The topic of an expansive border wall between the United States and Mexico has been highly debated – and well, divisive, for lack of a better word – in public circles since President Trump made the campaign promise of a Mexican-funded border wall in June 2015.

The proposed project has garnered controversy resulting from the substantial resources necessary for its completion, including the massive amount of materials required. However, as controversial as it is, the border wall was not originally Trump’s idea, despite what his detractors and supports may claim.

Whether you’re looking for a concrete form rental or ties and hardware, you know how long construction projects can take – even the best-planned ones. Below is a brief timeline of the border wall’s construction history:

San Diego and Operation Gatekeeper (1990-1996)

Construction of the federally constructed wall – or fence, depending where you are and who you are talking to – first began with the construction of a 14-mile stretch wall near San Diego. Kick-started during the H.W. Bush Administration, the wall was constructed during an especially dangerous and lawless time along the border, according to Rodney Scott, Chief of the Customs and Border Protection San Diego Sector.

Later in 1993, the Clinton Administration continued efforts to clamp down on the border by signing Operation Gatekeeper into law, adding further infrastructure and technology, as well as expanding the original fence in place. According to Customs and Border Protection, the area saw a 75% drop in illegal immigration arrests over the next few years.

The Clinton Administration outlined the legal ramifications of illicit border crossing with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. This ramped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants across the expansive Mexican-American border.

The Secure Fences Act (2006-2018)

Ten years later, the Bush Administration signed the Secure Fences Act, calling for the construction of 700 miles of physical fencing along the border. Declaring that this was “an important step toward immigration reform,” President Bush signed the act into law on October 26, 2006, when illegal immigration peaked with more than 1,000,000 arrests.

The fencing and measures taken as a result of the act essentially started closing the border, according to Dr. Alejandra Castaneda, a leading researcher on immigration and the border at the COLEF Research Center in Tijuana.

Years later, the Obama Administration continued efforts to secure the border authorized by Secure Fences. By 2018, the number of illegal immigrant arrests fell to approximately 396,000. Since 2007, Customs and Border Protection claims it has spent more than $2.3 billion on fencing and infrastructure along the southern border. CBP Chief Rodney Scott cited the decrease in illegal immigration as proof of their concept, first outlined in San Diego.

The Trump Administration (2015- Present)

Following his successful presidential campaign, President Trump has taken considerable measures to secure the border even further, in an attempt to follow up Gatekeeper and Secure Fences. During the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, nearly $300 million was awarded to contractors to build 40 miles of replacement structures in various locations.

However, his effort to secure further funding has been met with considerable resistance, most notably during the government halt showdown with Congress in early 2019. Reportedly requesting funding of upwards of $5.7 billion to pay for 234 miles of construction, the Trump Administration received less than one fifth of the requested funds in a bipartisan agreement to end the shutdown. As a result, a national emergency was declared, and the subsequent battle for funding The Wall continues.

If and when the border wall receives the funding that the Trump Administration requires, the form it will take is still anyone guess. While the President has talked about building a concrete wall on the campaign trail, officials have stated that this is not their only option. Some have pointed out the benefits of steel bollard fencing, which is already in place at certain points along the border.

Four concrete wall prototypes were tested by contractors, and reportedly did not do well during testing, although the official results have not been made public. Despite these tests, construction on the Rio Grande Valley section of the wall is still reportedly planned; a project which will include a reinforced concrete levee wall, all for the price tag of $312 million. While your project may not have the scope or funding of the border wall, if you require reliable concrete forming and shoring equipment, look no further than Forming America. We sell, rent, and renovate formwork. Our specialty is Symons Steel-Ply forms and accessories, but we also handle other types and brands of equipment, including European crane set clamp forms, residential forms, heavy-duty shoring and scaffolding, and used plywood. Contact or call us today at 1-888-993-1304.

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