On Wednesday, President Donald Trump tweeted: “Great briefing this afternoon on the start of our Southern Border WALL!”
The tweet came amid much reporting about the president’s efforts to get the military to fund construction of the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border because the recent omnibus spending bill did not fully fund the wall.
The result has led to confusion about what is funded and what is actually being built.
Friday, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) provided some answers.
The omnibus spending bill, passed by Congress a week ago, provides funding for approximately 161 kilometers (100 miles) of “border wall system,” CBP Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello told reporters.
Most of this will be used to replace or repair existing barriers along the border. Only a small portion will be used to build new wall.
“As [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has pointed out, it does not fully fund our needs in the most critical locations,” Vitiello said.
“Our agents and officers have decades of experience and they know their operational needs. We provided Congress with a fact-based and needs-driven border security improvement plan that clearly sets out the requirements for securing the border.
“The truth is walls work and the data show it and agents know it,” he added.
Vitiello said CPB and its parent agency, DHS, want 10 times the length of wall for which Congress provided funding. The agencies would like to see barriers along 1,609 kilometers (1,000 miles) of the U.S. southern border. Right now, there are walls or fencing along 1,052 kilometers (650 miles).
VOA’s Immigration Unit contributed to this report.