Officials install video cameras at Trump’s border wall project, citing ‘threat environment’

Border Wall Prototypes
Mario Villarreal, the field office division chief for Customs and Border Protection, walks near the border wall prototypes that were built east of San Ysidro on the border of Mexico, shown here on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

In the weeks before construction was to begin on eight prototypes for President Trump’s border wall, Customs and Border Protection officials ordered a video surveillance system to help authorities guard the project, according to a recently released federal document.

The remote video surveillance system moved forward without competitive bidding, added to an existing contract held by General Dynamics.

How much it cost is not known. A document published on a federal government website on Nov. 16 — two months after the decision was made to use it — blacked out the price.

It was approved under a no-bid process because the agency decided it had to install the system immediately, just before construction was to begin on Sept. 26. The normal bidding process would take weeks, the notice said.


The report is the latest example of how concerned federal authorities were over possible security issues at the construction site for the prototypes, which cost $20 million to build. The border wall project is the centerpiece of the Trump administration’s border security and immigration crackdown.

The document makes several references to the “threat environment” surrounding the project and said it was “necessary to deploy surveillance technology to the construction site in order to provide situational awareness related to threats against the site and against the contractors building the prototype walls on behalf of CBP.”

During the prototypes’ monthlong construction, there was not a single protest or incident.

The document is the latest example of security precautions taken by federal and local law enforcement. Before construction began, the Homeland Security Department issued a memo to local agencies warning of the potential for violent protests.


San Diego police and the county Sheriff’s Department blocked off streets leading to the site, banned parking on other streets for a month and constantly patrolled the area. The county spent $111,000 on temporary chain-link fencing to shield private property and block direct access to the site.

The contract for the surveillance system said it would stay in place for up to eight months. After that, it would be deployed to another Border Patrol sector in Texas.

Moran writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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