Backing the Trump administration's border wall plans, Acting Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Ronald Vitiello pointedly struck back at criticism aimed at the border wall's funding, necessity, and effectiveness Friday.
"The truth is walls work and the data show it and agents know it," Vitiello said, lashing out at a news conference Friday.
"DHS and CBP are fully committed to a balanced investment in physical infrastructure, access and patrol roads, technology, and personnel to support critical border security missions."
Vitiello boasted his "agents and officers have decades of experience" and are "vocal about their need for effective barriers to deny the entry of illegal aliens and contraband."
The news conference was set to announce plans Friday for using the $1.6 billion of funding from the omnibus on around 100 miles of border wall in parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
Vitiello says he appreciates the $1.6 billion, but added it is just a start, calling it a "down payment."
"The consolidated appropriations act of 2018 advances critical DHS mission priorities, including the construction of approximately 100 miles of border wall system; however, as Secretary [Kirstjen] Nielson 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."
Among the wall structures to be replaced or built with the $1.6 billion, according to Vitiello:
- 33 miles of new wall and replacing 35 miles in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where 35 new gates will be added throughout a 55-mile stretch of existing border wall.
- 25 miles of new levee wall will be built in Hidalgo County, Texas.
- 8 miles of new wall will be built in Starr County, Texas.
- 20 new miles of border wall in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
- 14 miles of "old, dilapidated landing mats" with a "steel bollard wall" in San Diego, where 14 other miles will be replaced.
- 2 miles of a pedestrian barrier will be replaced with a 30-foot barrier in Calexico, Arizona.
"Border wall system is a comprehensive solution that provides wall, lighting, enforcement cameras, and other related technology, and all-weather roads to impede and deny illegal cross-border activity."
The news conference comes days after President Donald Trump faced criticism for his tweets boasting about construction of the border wall, and reportedly weighed using military funding to pay for the estimated $26 billion border-wall project.
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