Donald Trump touted the robust construction of his border fence on a visit to southern California, but risked the ire of one of his top generals by revealing the barrier would be “wired” to detect attempts to breach it.
Flanked by engineers and the border patrol commissioner, the president talked up the steel-and-concrete fence’s technological elements during a press conference in San Diego.
He said: “They’re wired, so that we will know if somebody is trying to break through.”
Turning to Lt Gen Todd Semonite, chief of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Mr Trump added: “You may want to discuss that a little bit, general.”
But he was told: “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing it.”
To nervous laughter from officials, Mr Trump continued: “Ok. I like that. That was a great answer. I’ll just tell you they’re wired, ok? They’re wired. They’re technologically very advanced, all set up for cameras any place we want.
“They’re all wired out for drone technology. Anything you want, we have.”
The fence posts themselves are steel tubes, filled with concrete and rebar and topped with flat panels. ”It’s the Rolls-Royce version,” Mr Trump said.
Cost concerns had led him to drop his intention to paint the wall black, which absorbs heat, the president added. He said the wall was “a good, strong rust colour” and could be painted in future.
Gen Semonite gave new details about the pace of construction that showed how quickly the Trump administration now plans to move.
It has built 66 miles so far, has 251 miles under construction across 17 sites and contracts in place for 163 miles planned in the next 90 days, he said. Further construction on private property is expected to take more time.
Crews are installing 270 panels a day, each one with eight fence posts.
Additional reporting by Associated Press