President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall is getting shorter and at least partially see-through.
Trump offered new details of the wall he wants to build on the Mexican border to reporters traveling with him to Paris during an off-record conversation on Air Force One, portions of which were released for publication Thursday by the White House.
His colorful explanation of his thinking also included planning for the possibility drug dealers would haphazardly toss heavy bags of illegal narcotics over the barrier, posing a danger to innocent passersby unless they could see them coming.
“It could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall,” Trump said. “As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over.”
Trump also told reporters there is “a very good chance” that solar panels can be added to the wall to offset costs. He also said he sees an opportunity to cut the length of the wall to as little as 700 miles rather than the entire length of the border, which runs about 2,000 miles.
“You don’t need 2,000 miles of wall because you have a lot of natural barriers. You have mountains. You have some rivers that are violent and vicious. You have some areas that are so far away that you don’t really have people crossing. So you don’t need that. But you’ll need anywhere from 700 to 900 miles,” he said.
It’s not the first time since he took office that Trump has raised the possibility of a wall that doesn’t stretch across the entire border. He said in a Feb. 9 interview with MSNBC that the wall only would “need 1,000” miles of coverage because of natural barriers.
He also suggested to reporters that existing border fencing is a starting point for what he envisions. “We’re taking wall that was good but it’s in very bad shape, and we’re making it new,” he said. “We’re fixing it. It’s already started.”
House Republicans this week released a spending bill that proposes $1.6 billion for border wall construction during the federal fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, after leaving out any funding for the wall in the budget for the current year.
Trump pledged during his campaign to make Mexico pay for the wall. Mexico’s president has said that won’t happen.