LOS ANGELES — The United States is building a barrier stretching 300 feet (90 meters) out into the Pacific to bar illegal immigrants from using a low-tide route to flood into southern California from Mexico.
The $4.3 million project will replace a dilapidated border fence with an 18-foot (nearly six-meter) high corrosion-proof barrier between Tijuana on the Mexican side and the US side south of San Diego.
“The project we are working on is to replace the existing fence,” border patrol official Michael Gimenez told AFP, adding that the new structure will be a total of 1,200 feet (365 meters) long, of which 900 feet (274 meters) will be on land. It is due to be completed in March.
Immigrants have been able to come around the end of the old barrier using jet skis and surf boards, but also by walking along the shoreline at low tide to a beach on the US side of the border, he said.
The fence was also riddled with gaps. “We are replacing those portions, due to the corrosion, due to the salt air and the water corroding the existing pipes,” Gimenez said, adding that the new wall should have a 30-year life span.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, hundreds of illegal immigrants would cross, lured by the distant San Diego skyline, according to the Los Angeles Times.
More recently, the beach has hosted demonstrations by critics protesting US illegal immigration policies, and a group of deported immigrants last year walked across the sand border in a symbolic protest.