Immigration Debate: News 8 tours Calexico border wall project - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Immigration Debate: News 8 tours Calexico border wall project

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8 / AP) - The federal government has started work on a border wall in California to replace a decaying decades-old barrier.

The work that began Wednesday in the city of Calexico is the first wall contract awarded in the Trump administration outside of eight prototypes that were built in San Diego. It is a little more than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) long - a tiny portion of the president's plans for what he calls a "big, beautiful wall" with Mexico.

US Border Patrol Agent Justin Castrejon gave News 8 a tour of the latest replacement of the border wall.

The new wall will tower 30 feet above ground and is at least four feet underground.

Last year, agents with the El Centro sector apprehended more than 18,000 people while also reporting a high number of assaults against them.

The Calexico wall does not utilize the styling of the prototypes that were tested near Otay. Those were ordered by President Trump as part of a massive $18 billion plan to add a wall stretching the length of the U.S. - Mexico border.

"We are doing our job regardless of the political climate. Just to reiterate, this is a project that started in 2009. This has been our focus for a long time. This is now the second administration who's focus has been here," said Agent Castrejon.

Late last year, the Trump administration waived environmental and other reviews to allow the current project to proceed.

Border Patrol stressed the wall is just one part - along with its agents and technology - that make up the effort to secure the border. "all that working together is going to help us complete our mission. All of those components working together is going to help us better secure our border and make our communities more safe," said Agent Castrejon.

The administration is seeking $18 billion to extend the wall. Efforts to pay for it as part of a broader immigration package failed in the Senate last week.

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