U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have started construction to replace fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border in downtown Calexico, Calif., with a 30-foot-high, bollard-style wall, according to a press release issued Wednesday.
The 2.25-mile project will stretch from the Calexico West Port of Entry to beyond the Gran Plaza Outlets and includes approximately 2.25 miles of all-weather roads.
The current barrier was erected in the 1990s and is comprised of recycled scraps of metal and old landing mats.
CBP spokesman Carlos Diaz told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday the project was funded by fiscal 2017 appropriations, which will also go toward replacement projects in San Diego, Calif., and Santa Teresa, N.M., as well as 35 gates in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
The replacement project in Calexico was one of Border Patrol's highest priorities because of high level of illegal immigrant apprehensions and drug smuggling the El Centro Sector has seen in recent years.
"Although the existing wall has proven effective at deterring unlawful cross-border activity, smuggling organizations damaged and breached this outdated version of a border wall several hundred times during the last two years, resulting in costly repairs," CBP said in a statement.
Twenty-one Border Patrol agents based in of the El Centro Sector were assaulted in fiscal 2017, and law enforcement officials reported apprehending 18,633 illegal immigrants in that time period.
CBP said improving the wall will "better ensure the safety of agents and the public and create a better atmosphere for business and commerce, all while enhancing overall border security."
The agency said that it is working with supporting agencies "to ensure its presence in the region interferes as little as possible with the environment."