President Donald Trump on Wednesday showed off a swath of his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, boasting about its impenetrability for the cameras to the point that he was gently reprimanded by his hosts in charge of construction.
The president diverted from a fundraising swing through California to pay a visit to San Diego and view progress nearby on his long-promised wall aimed at severely curtailing illegal border crossings by migrants. He showed off a portion of the 30-foot-tall bollard wall and even beams bearing signature Trumpian descriptions.
“Look at the inner tube to see what happens, because after the wall is up, we pour concrete and concrete goes into the tube, and in addition to that we have rebar,” Trump explained to reporters, referring to a stack of the hollow steel beams that would eventually make up the wall.
“So if you think you’re going to cut it with a blowtorch, that doesn’t work because you hit concrete,” he continued, “and if you think you’re going to go through the concrete, that doesn’t work because we have very powerful rebar inside.”
Trump also talked up the concrete filling being used for the beams, telling reporters that workers were using “a very powerful concrete.”
“And a lot of technological advances have been made with concrete,” he added. “It sounds pretty simple but it’s not. It’s a pretty powerful concrete. So you have the rebar, you have the outer crust and you have — the inside is concrete and it’s pretty amazing.”
The wall, which Trump said had been described to him as the “Rolls-Royce version” of a border barrier, had even undergone extensive testing to ensure that immigrants would be unable to scale the structure.
“We actually built prototypes and we have, I guess you could say, world-class climbers,” he said. “We had 20 mountain climbers. That’s all they do, they love to climb mountains.”
“Some of them were champions, and we gave them different prototypes of walls, and this was the one that was hardest to climb,” he continued, gesturing to the stack of beams behind him.
After allowing his acting heads of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, and the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss other features of the wall, the president began to elaborate on the structure’s technological assets.
“One thing we haven’t mentioned is technology,” Trump said. “They’re wired so that we will know if somebody’s trying to break through.” He then offered the floor to Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, acting head of the Army Corps, who quickly answered: “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing that.”
But Trump wasn’t done.
Fortifying the wall even more, he said, was the fact that the steel wall’s beams are heat conductors. “It’s designed to absorb heat, so it’s extremely hot,” he said. “You won’t be able to touch it. You can fry an egg on that wall.”
The president said he was talked out of his initial vision for the wall — a solid concrete block — though he asserted it would have been cheaper to use it. “It’s more expensive, but it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
But he acquiesced to what officials referred to as a “game changer” of a design, as well as their “economic” suggestion to leave the slats their natural rust color, rather than painting the entire structure a heat-absorbing black.
The wall, for which progress had been extremely slow going because of funding issues, was even attracting international attention, Trump claimed on Wednesday. “Other countries are now coming, as you know, and they are starting the wall,” he said, though he declined to offer any examples. “The only thing is, I’m not sure they can afford a wall like this.”
After talking through the design features of the barrier, he then took questions from reporters on everything from the Federal Reserve’s latest interest rate cut to the turnover within the Department of Homeland Security, the agency tasked with enacting his immigration agenda.
Then he walked off to examine the wall up close — but not before giving it his seal of approval, literally, by placing his signature on a beam with a permanent marker.