POLITICS
03/30/2018 12:07 am ET

Trump Says His Border Wall Is Going Up Right Now. It's Not.

"You can see a chicken as a penguin, but it's still a chicken," a panelist on CNN quips.

Donald Trump tweeted a series of photos as he hailed the beginning of the construction of his long-promised border wall. “Great briefing this afternoon on the start of our Southern Border WALL,” he gushed on Wednesday.

In a speech in Ohio on Thursday, Trump called the construction a “thing of beauty.”

One problem: The construction isn’t part of Trump’s border wall. It’s the replacement of a fence dating back to the 1990s in Calexico in Southern California. The fence, made mostly from metal scraps, is being torn down and replaced with a 30-foot-high barrier using steel bollards, or posts, along a two-mile stretch. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials pointed out last month that the Calexico construction had been planned for years and clarified that it’s not Trump’s wall.

David Kim, assistant chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector, told The Desert Sun: “We just wanted to ... let everybody know that this is a local tactical infrastructure project that was planned for quite some time.” He said he wanted to ensure that “there is no confusion about whether … this is tied to some of the bigger immigration debates that are currently going on.”

The Border Patrol identified the project in 2009 as a priority, Kim said, long before Trump proposed his wall. Funding for the Calexico project ― about $18 million ― was allocated last year, the Sun reported.

Calexico’s mayor, Maritza Hurtado, told CNN: This is “not the beginning of a wall project for the Trump administration. It is completely different.” A border barrier has existed there for decades.

A CNN panel went bonkers Thursday debating the barrier. Stephen Moore, former senior economic adviser for the Trump campaign, insisted: “The wall is being built, but they don’t have enough money to finish it.” Host Anderson Cooper responded: “It’s not being built. Where actually is the wall being built? ... Am I going crazy?” Christine Quinn, former speaker of the New York City Council, quipped: “You can see a chicken as a penguin, but it’s still a chicken.”

Trump was given $1.6 billion for border projects earlier this month in the new spending agreement, but that didn’t include money for wall construction. The Department of Homeland Security has estimated a wall would cost at least $21.6 billion to build, though other estimates are substantially higher.

USA Today has created an interactive map of the barriers that exist along the Mexican border here. Check it out.

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