Preparing for Protests as Work Begins on the Wall

the wall

In San Diego, construction has begun for prototype versions of the border wall, and law enforcement in the area are hunkering down for possible protests.

"The wall," designed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from across the Mexican border, was a mainstay of President Donald Trump's campaign promises last year. It earned him widespread support among working class Americans who feel that they have lost jobs to foreign workers, but has naturally attracted controversy among pro-immigration groups.

Officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection say that six different companies from out of state are building the eight prototypes near the San Diego border. Four will be made with concrete and four with other materials. Each will be somewhere between 18 and 30 feet tall.

Law enforcement officers say that they are not aware of any major plans to protest at the site, but that they are preparing for potential trouble—probably a wise move, given how heated some protests have become since President Trump took office.

Dozens of cars from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department were at Otay Mesa, near the border, on Tuesday; along Airway Road, parking will be prohibited until November 10, while temporary fencing has been set up around a nearby field. Special areas known as "free-speech zones" have been prepared for potential protesters, but are set off behind cement barriers to prevent rioting.

"The San Diego Police Department supports every person’s First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech and their Right to Assemble," wrote Shelly Zimmerman, Chief of the San Diego Police Department. "As part of our community policing philosophy we work closely with any party or group that wishes to express their views in a law abiding manner. We will work collaboratively with all our local, state, and federal partners to help ensure the safety of our community. However, we will not tolerate any protesters that turn to violence, vandalism or other criminal acts. Should that occur we will be prepared to take swift and decisive action."

Enrique Morones of the pro-immigration group Border Angels said that they are planning a bi-national church mass to protest the wall, but have not determined when or where. He too is concerned about violence between supporters and protesters.

“If you’re in favor of the wall, you’re entitled to speak in favor of it but peacefully, and that’s what we’re asking for."