President Donald Trump on Tuesday viewed prototypes for a wall to stop illegal immigration in California, telling reporters on the border with Mexico: “Say what you want. This is life.”
“These are the facts of life,” Trump said at the U.S. Customs border crossing in Otay Mesa, near San Diego, noting the impact of widespread illegal immigration on the United States. “This part of San Diego needs a wall.
“They want a wall very desperately.”
President Trump viewed eight wall prototypes at Otay Mesa, one of two border crossings in San Diego, with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other Border Patrol officials.
“If you don’t have a wall system, we’re not going to have a country,” he said.
The president called on Congress to include at least $12 billion for the wall in its upcoming budget and urged lawmakers to deny federal money to sanctuary jurisdictions like California that have become “the best friend of the criminal.”
“California’s sanctuary policies put the entire nation at risk,” Trump said. “The criminals take refuge in these sanctuary cities.
“It’s very dangerous for our police and law-enforcement folks — the smugglers, traffickers and gang members taking refuge.
“These policies release dangerous criminal offenders to prey on innocent people, and nullify the federal law,” the president said. “They are threatening the security of the safety of the people of our country.”
In his appeal to Congress, Trump argued the border wall would “save thousands and thousands of lives — save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars by reducing crime, drug flow, welfare fraud, and burdens on schools and hospitals.
“You will save hundreds of billions of dollars — many, many times what it’s going to cost.”
In looking over the eight wall examples, Trump said any barrier must have “see-through capability on the other side and solid concrete on top, or steel and concrete on top” to prevent scaling the wall by aliens.
“The round piece that you see up here or you see more clearly back there,” the president said, pointing at various models, “the larger it is, the better it is — because it’s very hard to get over the top.
“It’s really a deterrent from getting over the top.
“These are like professional mountain climbers,” he said of the illegals. “They are incredible climbers.
“They can’t climb some of these walls.
“We have determined what to do,” the president added. “When we build, we are not like saying: ‘Oh, gee, I wish we did it a different way.'”
Homeland Security officials estimated last month the wall, stretching along more than 1,250 miles, is expected to cost as much as $21.6 billion and take over three years to complete.
Each prototype Trump viewed Tuesday cost $486,000, DHS said, and the winning bidders on the project are to be selected around June 1.
Regarding cooperation with Mexico, President Trump said “both countries recognize the need to stem the cross border flow of illegal weapons, drugs, people, and cash.”
He said he had a “great relationship” with President Enrique Peña Nieto — though he has said his country will not pay for a wall — and “we are trying to work things out.
“We will see whether or not it happens,” Trump said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen.
“But we have to obviously have a couple of disagreements before we get there.
“In any event, we will handle it.”