- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2018

The Trump administration’s plans for a border wall will put about 1,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border behind some barrier — up from 654 miles right now, the Border Patrol said Friday.

“That will make a major difference,” said Ronald D. Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as he briefed reporters on progress in building the wall.

He said wall construction is already underway in Calexico, California, thanks to money the Trump administration won last year, and up to 100 miles of additional wall money was approved in the new 2018 spending bill President Trump signed last week.

Some of that upgrades existing fencing while other wall will cover new mileage.

The wall has become a major symbol of Mr. Trump’s approach to immigration, with the president saying it’s critical to cutting the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs that cross from Mexico.

Democrats have blocked more extensive funding, saying they don’t see the efficacy of a wall at this point.

A recent Democratic staff report claimed Border Patrol agents themselves aren’t calling for a wall, instead asking for more technology and manpower.

But Mr. Vitiello rejected those findings, saying agents do want more wall.

“Our agents and officers have decades of experience and they know their operational needs,” he said.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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