DHS test proves Trump's wall prototype can be cut with an ordinary saw

President claims that wall was designed by someone else (it wasn't) and that he never said Mexico would pay for it

By Igor Derysh

Published January 11, 2019 5:00AM (EST)


A test by the Department of Homeland Security showed that President Donald Trump’s preferred steel-slat prototype for his proposed border wall could be cut through with a saw, according to a DHS report.

NBC News published a photo of the prototype after its slats were cut with an ordinary saw during a test by the military and Border Patrol members.

The prototype is the one that Trump settled on after touring eight steel and concrete prototype walls on the border in March of last year. According to an internal February Customs and Border Protection report obtained by KPBS, all eight prototypes were vulnerable to being breached. KPBS published the report in September but it got little attention until NBC News published the photo Thursday.

Asked about the photo, Trump claimed to reporters in front of the White House that it was “a wall designed by previous administrations."

Though past administrations have used similar designs to construct fencing along the border, the prototype in question was built during Trump’s administration.

"It's very, very hard — the wall that we are doing is very, very hard to penetrate," he claimed, despite his own administration’s report that all the prototypes could be breached.

DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman insisted the actual proposed wall would be stronger than the prototype that was cut through.

"While the design currently being constructed was informed by what we learned in the prototypes, it does not replicate those designs," Waldman told NBC. "The steel bollard design is internally reinforced with materials that require time and multiple industrial tools to breach, thereby providing U.S. Border Patrol agents additional response time to affect a successful law enforcement resolution. In the event that one of the steel bollards becomes damaged, it is quick and cost-effective to repair.”

But CBP spokesman Ralph DeSio previously admitted to KPBS that the wall prototypes "were not and cannot be designed to be indestructible.”

The wall, he said, would be designed to "impede or deny efforts to scale, breach, or dig under such a barrier, giving agents time to respond."

During the campaign, Trump promised to erect an "impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful" wall along the border that would somehow be paid for by Mexico.

On Thursday, Trump insisted to reporters that he had never said that.

"When, during the campaign, I would say Mexico is going to pay for it, obviously I never said this and I never meant they're going to write out a check," Trump said. "I said they were going to pay for it — they are. They're paying for it with the incredible deal we made called the United States-Mexico-Canada, USMCA deal."

But Trump’s campaign published a plan on its website before the 2016 election specifically insisting that when elected, Trump would coerce Mexico into directly paying $5 billion to $10 billion for the wall.

"It's an easy decision for Mexico: Make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion continues to flow into their country year after year," the plan from the campaign said.

Trump ignored his past promises while speaking to reporters and lashed out at NBC for reporting on the design flaws in his favored wall prototype.

“By the way, NBC may be the most dishonest reporters of all time,” Trump said.

Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Tips/Email: iderysh@salon.com Twitter: @IgorDerysh

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