'Beautiful wall' indeed: US military deployed to Mexican border ordered to paint fence
"While the primary purpose is to improve the aesthetic appearance of the wall, there may also be an operational benefit based on our experience with painted barrier in Nogales, Arizona," an email from the Department of Homeland Security sent to members of Congress read, explaining how the agency had been pleasantly surprised to discover illegals crossing the border stood out against the painted barriers despite their attempts at camouflage and found the painted barriers more difficult to climb.
The message left much to the imagination, including the color of the wall and the number of service members who would be assigned to painting duty, though the "mission" was estimated to take 30 days, operating out of Calexico, California. President Donald Trump last month requested the wall be painted black so that it would absorb heat from the sun and become too hot for migrants to climb.
Trump's antagonists were not amused. "Our military has more important work to do than making Trump's wall beautiful," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) tweeted, criticizing the "disgraceful misuse of taxpayer $$," while Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) slammed the "gross misuse" of the military.
Others defended the paint job.
More than 4,300 troops are currently stationed at the border, a mix of active-duty and National Guard personnel. While the troops' current deployment is officially scheduled to last through September, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has hinted at a considerably lengthier occupation.
"We're not going to leave until the border is secure," he told AP, even as he claimed the troops' stay "will not be indefinite." Shanahan estimated 63 new miles of wall could be constructed before September – of the 256 miles the Army Corps of Engineers has been contracted to build.
That's assuming the president is even allowed to spend the approximately $8.1 billion he has earmarked for the wall's construction, much of it Pentagon funds originally destined for other projects. A California judge last month put a stop to the transfer of $1 billion to the wall fund, but then earlier this week a federal judge threw out a legal challenge by House Democrats, ruling they lacked the standing to interfere with Trump's appropriations.Also on rt.com Record 144,000 people detained at US-Mexico border in May
The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly working with the Pentagon on a "multiyear plan" for the border. More than 133,000 illegal immigrants were arrested last month, and Trump has taken the unprecedented step of threatening Mexico with punitive tariffs starting at five percent on Monday if they do not somehow stop the flow of migrants northward into the US.
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