Donald Trump published a tweet this afternoon, apparently from Air Force One, noting that he’d soon land in Calexico, California, and suggesting the purpose of the visit was to “look at a portion of the new WALL being built on our Southern Border.”
Those who were skeptical of the message were right to pause. The president has spent several months brazenly lying about construction of border barriers, to the point that it’s generally wise to assume all of Trump’s claims on the issue are false.
Indeed, his latest claims fall into the same predictable pattern.
In the 1990s, metal scraps and landing mats were recycled to build fencing [in Calexico]. In 2009, Obama-era officials identified the project for an upgrade, Customs and Border Protection officials have said. The project was funded in Trump’s first year in office.
Last February, CBP said that they’d begun replacing 2.25 mile of outdated fencing built from recycled metal scraps and landing mat with 30-foot steel bollard fencing.
None of this, in other words, is part of Trump’s crusade to build a new “wall.”
Nevertheless, when Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited the site last fall, she had a plaque attached to the fence. It reads, “This plaque was installed on October 26, 2018, to commemorate the completion of the first section of President Trump’s border.
The plaque isn’t true. As the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler noted, “It really says something when the federal government installs a plaque with a falsehood.”
Or as George Conway added, “Even their plaques lie.”
It’s not as if administration officials haven’t had time to get up to speed on this. BuzzFeed reported six months ago that the project isn’t a new wall built by Trump, it’s a replacement of old fencing requested by Obama.
…David Kim, the assistant chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector, where this barrier is located, told the Desert Sun in February, when construction began, that the project shouldn’t be linked to the debate about the wall.
“This is a local tactical infrastructure project that was planned for quite some time,” Kim was quoted as telling the Desert Sun.
A September 2017 statement from the Department of Homeland Security said the project would replace two miles of existing fence. It was funded by Congress through the fiscal year 2017 DHS Appropriations Act…. But the project had been planned before Trump even announced his presidential candidacy in 2015.
I have a hunch the Republican president will neglect to mention any of these details during his trip.