House Judiciary Committee members, including Chairman Bob Goodlatte (center with back toward camera) examine Wall prototypes near San Diego on Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte was one of the first members of Congress to view prototype walls that could line the Border between the United States and Mexico.
Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, saw six different wall samples, all approximately 30 feet tall, while touring locations along the international border in Texas and California.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee led committee members on a border tour this week as a way to inform their decision-making on immigration issues. The tour was closed to the news media. On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Goodlatte said he and his colleagues were the first members of Congress to view the prototypes.
Upon visiting portions of the border it became clear to Goodlatte that a uniform border wall across the entire southern edge of the U.S. is not an effective strategy, he said. There are some places, such as near the San Diego sector of the border, where a wall could be effective, but there are other places where such an investment would be impractical, Goodlatte added.
Goodlatte spoke of walking along a fence that divides the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego. The fence has 2,000 cuts into it, he said.
“One of the issues there, of course, is how much wall do you need,” Goodlatte said. “We’re not going to build a wall that’s 30 feet high along the entire 2,000 miles of our southern border, but walls in particular places, particularly where there’s high-trafficked areas, where there’s lots of criminal cartel activity on the other side, where there are major urban areas, walls are appropriate.”
The six wall prototypes, which stand next to each other, should be complete within the next 10 days, Goodlatte said. From there, they will be tested on their ability to withstand breaches and natural forces. The Department of Homeland Security will then determine which, if any, of the walls will be erected.
The border wall, a priority of President Donald Trump, has divided congressional lawmakers. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending package this summer that would allocate $1.6 billion in initial funding for Trump’s border wall. Critics of the barrier have denounced the wall as unnecessary and costly, and have said spending money on such a project would detract from more important funding priorities.
During the presidential campaign, Trump campaigned on building a border wall that he said Mexico would pay for. Mexico’s president has repeatedly said the country will not pay for the wall.
Carmen Forman covers politics, focusing on Southwest Virginia. She previously covered local government in Roanoke County and Salem. The Oklahoma native started at The Roanoke Times in 2014.
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