Ready for their close-up: Trump inspects border wall prototypes

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The future of President Donald Trump’s promised border wall with Mexico lies in massive pieces in the California desert, waiting for his inspection Tuesday in his first visit to the state as president.

En route to a fundraiser, Trump will personally examine eight recently constructed prototypes for the wall near the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego in order to, as he has put it, “pick the right one.”

Supporters of the wall, and of Trump, have called the wall a necessary deterrent to illegal border crossings, while critics — including California Gov. Jerry Brown — consider it divisive and environmentally harmful.

In a letter to Trump on Monday, Brown, a Democrat, pleaded with the president to focus on funding more pressing issues in the country’s most populous state, such as its ongoing high-speed rail project.

“California thrives because we welcome immigrants and innovators from across the globe,” Brown wrote. “You see, in California we are focusing on bridges, not walls. And that’s more than just a figure of speech.”

Before the president inspects the models, here’s a refresher on where things stand on one of his most divisive policy proposals:

1. What’s the latest on the wall?

Trump signed an executive order in January 2017 ordering the “immediate construction” of a border wall, though more specifics came a year later in a request his Department of Homeland Security made to Congress for the needed cash.

The plan called for 316 miles of new fencing, and 407 miles of reinforcing existing fence over the next decade.

The U.S.-Mexico border is roughly 2,000 miles long, and 653 miles of it already has some sort of fencing to block people and vehicles, according to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a human rights group. The other roughly 1,300 miles of border lacks fencing, though the Rio Grande forms a natural border along most of those miles, according to WOLA.

In March 2017, Trump solicited design proposals from builders to create “physically imposing” and “aesthetically pleasing” prototypes that should be difficult to scale and offer features that prevent “sophisticated climbing aids,” such as grappling hooks and building handholds.

A rendering given to NBC News from U.S. border officials depicts a multifaceted wall that features a concrete stretch facing the U.S. and a nonconcrete stretch facing Mexico that would allow officials to see through it.

Image: A graphic presented by border patrol during a presentation about the proposed border wall

A graphic presented by border patrol during a presentation about the proposed border wall.