Trump's plan to use a webcam at the border could backfire spectacularly


Donald Trump wants a webcam to prove his long-promised border wall is being built — but it may reveal things border officials don't want people to see.

Border officials and the Army Corps of Engineers are reportedly concerned about the White House's plan to put a webcam at the southwest border to track border wall construction as part of a broader messaging strategy to convince Donald Trump's supporters that he is making good on a key 2016 campaign promise.

U.S. crews working on the Trump's border wall occasionally violate Mexican sovereignty while repositioning heavy equipment or "to maneuver their vehicles," the Washington Post reported Tuesday. Both the Army Corps and CBP have also reportedly told the White House that using a webcam is a bad idea because it could make contractors' "proprietary techniques visible to competitors."

Their qualms stem from a reported plan by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, as well as others in the administration, to install a webcam that would live-stream footage of the border wall construction 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to the Post, Trump and White House officials "have been eager for photos and videos of new barriers, including aerial footage, that the president can share on his Twitter account."

That enthusiasm prompted strong objections. In addition to showing U.S. work crews illegally crossing the border, the report noted some areas of construction are so remote that the cameras would "require their own web connectivity and attendants who could frequently reposition them to keep the lens pointed at the action."

CPB did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Army Corps of Engineers declined to comment, directing inquiries on the matter to CBP.

The Mexican Embassy also declined to comment when asked if it was aware U.S. workers had repeatedly violated Mexican sovereignty while building the wall.

Kushner was tapped to oversee wall construction last winter after Trump was dissatisfied with the slow pace of construction progress, according to the Post.

Kushner dismissed concerns about propriety techniques and has reportedly moved forward with the webcam plan.

According to the Post, it is unclear how much taxpayer money would be necessary to install and maintain the construction webcams.

Building a border wall was one of Trump's biggest campaign promises during the 2016 election. At stops along the campaign trail, he pledged to "build the wall" to keep out immigrants — who he claimed were drug dealers and rapists — and promised Mexico would finance the project.

Mexico, of course, refused to do so, leading Trump to eventually declare a national emergency at the southern border in February this year, swiping billions of dollars intended for military families and redirecting them to construct the wall.

Trump may be eager to show progress on the wall given his difficulties making any real headway on the project thus far.

At the end of September 2019, almost three years after Trump was elected, CBP officials confirmed that not a single new mile of border wall had been constructed. The only border wall construction so far has been to replace "dilapidated and outdated designs," according to CBP.

Just prior to the CBP announcement, Trump had falsely claimed that "massive" sections of the wall were "going up rapidly."

David Lapan, Trump's former Department of Homeland Security spokesperson, said that differentiation made messaging difficult, and that a webcam might help camouflage the holes in Trump's strategy.

"The challenge the administration has had is terming everything 'new construction,' when in most cases it's replacement," he told the Post. "A camera showing you building something doesn’t differentiate between replacement fencing and new fencing in terms of something that didn't exist before."

Trump initially promised that 400 to 500 miles of border wall would be completed by the end of 2020, but so far the only progress on a new wall where no border was there before is an eight-mile span in South Texas where construction is in its earliest stages.

According to the Post, Kushner has convened regular White House meetings to push for faster wall construction.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.