U.S. Customs and Border Protection began physically testing border wall prototypes Monday, officials said.
A team of agents and engineers drove jackhammers, saws and other tools into samples’ surfaces to evaluate their “breachability.”
They were built side by side in San Diego.
Agents attempted scaling the walls with and without belay systems, CBP spokesperson Carlos Diaz told the Daily News Wednesday.
“We are testing for anti-scaling and anti-breaching,” he said. “They are doing assisted scaling, which includes ropes and those types of attempts, and unassisted, which doesn’t include anything—just freehand climbing.”
Members of the media were not invited to watch the testing, which is expected to last for 30-60 days.
“We don’t want to show what we are testing to other folks that might be interested in understanding how to defeat the wall system,” Diaz said.
“We use techniques and tactics we have seen throughout the Southwest border,” he said.
The evaluation process began Nov. 27. Physical testing only commenced this week.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents tested the walls for vulnerabilities.
The agency will review the outcomes of the testing phase to make recommendations to “decision makers” Diaz said.
Engineers will likely take components from different wall types and incorporate them into a final system.
Materials are also likely to vary at different sections of the wall. “We see a lot of different environments from Texas to San Diego, so we can decide which designs are going to work best,” Diaz said.
The prototypes, built to scale, stand between 18 and 30 feet tall, per design guidelines.
Agents attempted to scale the prototypes and tested eight smaller mock-ups for “breachability” Diaz said.
“There might be some designs that are really good against scalability but not good about breaching. So they will provide the best suggestion to decision makers so that they can build the best design,” he said.
The Department of Homeland Security said that border agents made just 310,531 arrests during the government’s 2017 fiscal year, the lowest total number in at least 17 years.
Trump’s promise to crackdown on illegal immigration was a bedrock of his campaign—his supporters often chanted “build the wall” at campaign rallies.