/ Modified jun 4, 2020 10:33 a.m.

Border Patrol turns to private industry for ideas to stop border wall breaches

The agency is asking contractors for ideas to "leapfrog current technology."

border-wall-2020-replace VIEW LARGER This border screen system installed in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was being replaced in 2020 with a 30-foot-high bollard border wall because Border Patrol officials said it was being cut through. Now the new border wall is also being breached.
Michel Marizco/Fronteras Desk

The Border Patrol has a problem: It’s built about 200 miles of new border wall along the Mexican boundary but it hasn’t figured out how to keep people from breaching it. So it’s asking for help.

The Trump administration hasn’t been able to stop people from destroying the new walls. In San Diego when the administration hired contractors to build new prototypes, soldiers were able to destroy them. Then smugglers began to do so.

This week, the U.S. Border Patrol asked contractors for new ideas to "leapfrog current technology to dramatically improve efficacy."

Vicki Gaubeca is with the Southern Border Communities Coalition, which has criticized the administration’s wall projects.

"That part of leapfrogging technology reads like bad science fiction novel. i think they’re trying to solicit these ideas of something that’s built with i don’t know, some kind of space technology," she said.

The request for ideas includes brainstorming whether paint could make it easy to spot someone jumping over.

And the agency asked whether sensors could be used in conjunction with a new wall system idea. Such cross-pollination was at the heart of the Border Patrol's plans in 2015 and 2016, when it focused on a message that the border wall was only one kind of barrier that needed other pieces to work correctly.

"They don't acknowledge that they already spent a lot of taxpayers money in building this wall," Gaubeca said.

The U.S. government has built about 182 miles and wants to complete 450 miles by the end of the year.

In early May, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan told Fox News that the Trump administration had built 182 miles of border wall and that the coronavirus pandemic hadn't slowed the project down. He said then that the goal was to complete 450 miles of border wall by year's end.

A Border Patrol spokesman declined an interview request.

Fronteras Desk
Fronteras Desk is a KJZZ project covering important stories in an expanse stretching from Northern Arizona deep into northwestern Mexico.
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