Reporting from San Diego for CBS This Morning on Thursday, correspondent Mireya Villarreal described the newly-constructed wall prototypes being proposed to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. However, she then grilled a member of the Border Patrol on whether the wall was just “distraction politics.”
“Spaced 30 feet apart and costing up to $500,000 each, these eight models offer just a glimpse of President Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico,” Villarreal declared at the top of the segment. She noted that each prototype also had “technology that goes down nearly 40 feet to stop from tunneling, which is a big problem here in the San Diego area.”
Despite acknowledging the real challenge of maintaining border security, she turned to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Division Chief Mario Villarreal [no relation] and insisted: “There are critics that will say that this is distraction politics, that right now there isn’t any sort of money to make this whole wall, once you even decide on a prototype.”
The official pushed-back on her talking points: “Everywhere where I have worked, where we put up tactical infrastructure, it has worked for us.”
Not being satisfied with that response, the reporter went to a left-wing activist for comment. Pedro Rios, director of the liberal group American Friends Service Committee, ranted: “This border wall and those prototypes are monuments to fear....We’re not really dealing with immigration the way we should be. These border prototype walls aren’t doing anything to resolve the issue.”
Those remarks were not surprising since his organization has an entire page dedicated to denouncing “U.S.-Mexico border militarization” that is supposedly “eroding human rights in the region.”
Earlier in the week, MSNBC aired a similar segment critical of the proposed border wall from correspondent Jacob Soboroff. However, that piece was quickly undermined as three illegal immigrants crossed the border right in the middle of the report.
The biased CBS coverage was brought to viewers by JCPenney, Advil, and Colgate.
Here is a full transcript of the October 26 report:
7:35 AM ET
CHARLIE ROSE: Today is the deadline for contractors to finish their prototypes for President Trump’s proposed southern border wall. All eight are already complete in a remote section of San Diego. The Trump administration asked Congress for $1.6 billion in financing to start the new wall. It is not approved yet. Mireya Villarreal is in San Diego, along the two existing walls at the U.S.-Mexico border. Mireya, good morning.
MIREYA VILLARREAL: Well, good morning. A lot of the original wall, which is what you see up on that hill past this secondary wall, is built from Vietnam-era material. It’s about 10 to 18 feet in most places, and it pales in comparison in size and technology when you’re looking at the new prototypes.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Taking Shape; Contractors Face Deadline for Border Wall Models]
Spaced 30 feet apart and costing up to $500,000 each, these eight models offer just a glimpse of President Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico. Look closer and you’ll see variations in design, color, and construction. Four are solid concrete, four others are made of concrete and a combination of materials, like steel.
Each of these prototypes is about thirty feet high. But what you don’t see is what’s buried beneath all of this concrete and metal. There is technology that goes down nearly 40 feet to stop from tunneling, which is a big problem here in the San Diego area.
MARIO VILLARREAL [BORDER PATROL]: I think each one has it’s own characteristics.
MIREYA VILLARREAL: Mario Villarreal is the San Diego Division Chief for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
MARIO VILLARREAL: We don’t have to select just one. We can identify key characteristics from one and maybe another that we can use toward the future.
MIREYA VILLARREAL: There are critics that will say that this is distraction politics, that right now there isn’t any sort of money to make this whole wall, once you even decide on a prototype.
MARIO VILLARREAL: Everywhere where I have worked, where we put up tactical infrastructure, it has worked for us.
PEDRO RIOS [AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE DIRECTOR]: This border wall and those prototypes are monuments to fear.
VILLARREAL: Pedro Rios, the director for the American Friends Service Committee, disagrees.
RIOS: We’re not really dealing with immigration the way we should be. These border prototype walls aren’t doing anything to resolve the issue.
Six construction companies from five states were selected from hundreds of bidders, a selection process Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga says was rushed to meet deadline.
MICHAEL EVANGELISTA-YSASAGA: We all said, “Look, you know, there’s just a lot of red flags.”
VILLARREAL: His construction company built this small sample wall that took an expert welder two hours and four minutes to cut through, more than double time requested by the government. But Border Patrol dismissed his company’s proposals because of incomplete paperwork he claims was misguided from the start.
EVANGELISTA-YSASAGA: To put this thing out on the street and say there’s a ten-page limit and there’s a limited window within which to submit your design ideas really was so far off the reservation that we really didn’t know what to do with it.
VILLARREAL: The Border Patrol will actually be testing this – agents within the Border Patrol – will be testing this along with private citizens over the next few months. Basically what they will be doing is checking out the scale and size to see how difficult it can be to breach these prototypes. That process will begin at the end of November.
GAYLE KING: Alright, got it. Thank you, Mireya.