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Tijuanans offer their own armchair analyses of Trump's border wall prototypes

Richard Marosi, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

TIJUANA, Mexico -- After weeks of testing, the eight prototypes for President Donald Trump's "big, beautiful" wall will share center stage on Tuesday with Trump during his first presidential visit to California.

As Trump inspects the prototypes and poses for photo-ops along the border east of San Diego, he'll be just yards away from a Tijuana slum where people have formulated their own ideas about them.

The 30-foot structures -- built with varying mixes of concrete and steel tubes -- draw residents, tourists and even Tijuana police officers who pose for selfies in the Rancho Escondido neighborhood. They climb atop piles of rubber tires or tip-toe on dirt mounds for a peek over the 7-foot border fence into the testing site.

The towering wall segments will offer Trump a powerful platform as he pushes to secure $25 billion for border security.

Frankie Contreras, 45, who has lived in the neighborhood for decades, said he prefers the symbolism of another imposing piece of infrastructure that will be hard to miss when the presidential entourage shows up: overhead power lines.

They link power plants in Tijuana and San Diego. Along with a nearby underground natural gas pipeline, they provide energy for millions of people in both countries. To residents such as Contreras, those are the kind of ties between the U.S. and Mexico that transcend any wall.

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"We need each other no matter what happens," he said.

Trump is not expected to announce which of the prototypes will be used, but he may express a preference.

Either way, the visit is expected to generate demonstrations on both sides of the border. Security has been heightened with authorities in Tijuana and San Diego working together to safeguard the area.

Whichever wall is selected, it will not likely be erected in California, where barriers already line most of the border and where replacements, planned for this year, have different designs. The wall, according to the most recent proposed budget of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is slated for the Texas border with Mexico.


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