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Border walls go up amid sounds of silence

SAN DIEGO (USA), october 14, 2017- The work building eight prototypes for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall ended its third full week Friday, with five of the walls in place on a hardscrabble patch of land on Otay Mesa.

A crew of five workers milled about one of the areas where contractors are erecting their designs for their version of the wall. There was a low rumble of heavy machinery as the crew worked, and once in a while a hollered command.

Other than that it was quiet.

That silence might be the most surprising thing about the prototype construction work, perhaps the most controversial building project now underway in the U.S.

Despite the controversy in both the U.S. and Mexico over Trump’s desire to construct the wall, workers have been able to go about their business undisturbed.

Concern over protests was clearly on the mind of officials, almost from the start. In the original 76-page scope of work for the project issued in March the government required bidders to submit a detailed security plan, including provisions for “fall-back positions, evacuation routines and methods, muster area … in the event of a hostile attack.”

Then on Sept. 6 the Department of Homeland Security issued a three-page “intelligence alert” to local law enforcement that warned large-scale protests and violence could accompany the building of the walls.

The Sheriff’s Department also erected what appears to be miles of fencing around large swatches of the wide, undeveloped mesa where the project is under construction. The reason was not simply security, spokesman Ryan Keim said last month.

The department conferred with the private landowners that own large tracts of the mesa, and also consulted with federal agencies. The area is home to several endangered species which needed protection, and the landowners did not want people trespassing on their property.

The county ended up spending $111,000 to rent, install and remove the fencing, he said in an email.

“The fence will ensure that the rights of the local property owners are protected while ensuring a safe and peaceful environment for free speech,” Keim said three days after the project began.

Finally, the county Board of Supervisors passed an emergency ordinance the day work began that allowed banning of knives, sticks, poles and other “implements of riot” in the area.

So far, all the precautions have not been needed. That’s because local organizations that are opposed to the wall and the broader Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration were not interested in drawing attention to the project.

Enrique Morones, founder of the group Border Angels, said he met with a DHS official he identified as Tim Quinn, the executive director for CBP’s Office of Intergovernmental Liaison, for two hours before the project began.

He told him what he said he later told both Sheriff Bill Gore and San Diego Chief Shelley Zimmerman: his group and others weren’t planning to protest.

“By doing that, it brings more attention to it,” he said. “It does more harm than good.”

Like other activists Morones said the likelihood that Congress would approve the billions of dollars needed to construct the wall is remote.

“People don’t want to contribute to Trump’s free press, for a wall that won’t be funded,” said Wendy Batterson, an activist and one of the leaders of the anti-Trump group Indivisible San Diego.

When work began, both the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department were out in force.

Dozens of patrol vehicles circled the streets near the access point to the building site, an industrial park off Enrico Fermi Drive. In addition Customs and Border Protection and Border Parol Agents zipped around the area in SUVs. Streets had been blocked off and designated no parking zones for a month.

Now, the heavy law enforcement presence in the first few days of the project has diminished. While the no parking restriction remains, on Friday only two San Diego police cars were in the area, and the sheriff’s presence was also far less than before.

Spokesman for both law enforcement departments declined to comment about their security plans — either heading into the construction project, or now.

“For security reasons we are not going to discuss our plans and/or our staffing as it would undermine public safety,” San Diego police LT. Scott Wahl said in a text message. “I can say we have been working collaboratively with regional law enforcement partners including CBP.”

Revealing security plans, even those made in preparation for the project, would be “counterproductive.”

Morones said he told officials that if any protests were to occur they would likely come from groups outside San Diego. So far that also has not occurred.

The project is still several weeks away from completion, and officials are still wary. Keim said that the department is “constantly evaluating and adjusting our response to ensure we have the most appropriate and effective resources available.”www.sadiegouniontribune.com

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Posted by on 14 ottobre 2017. Filed under News From The World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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