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Trump touts "virtually impenetrable" barriers during visit to California border

Probing Trump's plan to seize land for wall

Flanked by top Homeland Security officials he has urged to take controversial measures to curb migration, President Trump touted newly constructed barriers during a visit to California's border with Mexico on Tuesday. 

Mr. Trump called the barriers "an amazing project" and "virtually impenetrable," telling reporters that the 18- and 30-foot structures will deter migrants attempting cross into the U.S.  

"This wall, you won't be able to touch it. You can fry an egg on that wall — it's very very hot," the president told reporters in Otay Mesa, in the San Diego sector of the U.S.-Mexico border. "So if they're going to climb it, they need to bring hoses and water and I don't know where they're going to hook it up. There's not a lot of water out here."

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President Trump talks with reporters as he tours a section of the southern border wall, Wednesday, September 18, 2019, in Otay Mesa, California. Evan Vucci / AP

Standing beside Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan, the president also praised the Mexican government's deployment of newly formed National Guard units to its borders with the U.S. and Guatemala.  

"We're all thrilled," he said. "You know, Mexico has never done anything to impede people from pouring into our country, and now they're doing just the opposite. They've really been incredible. I also think it's good for Mexico because they're breaking up the cartels."

Asked about his campaign pledge that Mexico would finance the construction of the border wall, Mr. Trump said the country was already "paying" tens of thousands of soldiers to deter migrants in their own territory from reaching the U.S. 

With a little over a year left until the 2020 presidential election, the president has been urging officials to ramp up efforts to build new barriers or replace dilapidated ones in both public and private lands near the southern border as quickly as possible. Along with other promises to crackdown on illegal immigration, Mr. Trump's vow to erect a wall along the border with Mexico galvanized his supporters in 2016, and he's hoping construction will energize his base for his reelection.

After a two-month-long impasse with congressional Democrats that led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, Mr. Trump declared a national emergency over immigration in February and indicated he would take unilateral action to secure funding for his long-promised border wall.

The Pentagon has already signed off on two controversial multi-billion-dollar transfers of funding from different parts of its budget to be used to finance the construction of border barriers. 

Sara Cook contributed to this report. 

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