the

Building the border wall through the pandemic

president's priorities have moved

forward including construction work on

new barriers of our border with Mexico

in the Washington Post now reports this

evening that a North Dakota construction

firm has received the largest border

wall contract ever awarded a 1.3 billion

dollar deal to build 42 miles of black

painted fencing in southern Arizona so

we wanted to get a reality check on

what's being done on the president's

signature promise to build that wall and

what impact it's having along our

southern border here's ABC's Terry Moran

who's gonna pay for the wall who's gonna

pay for the wall it's the touchstone of

trumpism president Trump's signature

campaign pledge from 2016 build that

wall build that wall build a wall along

the southern US border to stop illegal

immigration three and a half years later

some sections of wall have been built

about a hundred and eighty miles or so

and President Trump is pressing on

construction has not slowed during the

corona virus pandemic the Trump

administration releasing this footage of

steel barriers being erected near Tucson

in late March appreciate everyone coming

out acting Secretary of Homeland

Security Chad Wolfe left his Washington

headquarters last week for a tour of the

walls progress in Arizona what that

border wall system provides the men and

women of the Border Patrol is that

increased impedance and denial and it

allows them to move resources to other

areas of the border that are very

difficult to patrol and so that's that's

critically important with a limited work

force we need to make sure that our

resources are being used effectively

since the end of February some 50 miles

of barriers has been built that figure

accounts for more than a quarter of all

border wall construction completed under

the trump presidency according to an ABC

News review of federal government data

trump has promised more than 500 miles

of border wall by early next year but

the reality only about three miles of

new barrier where none previously

existed have been built by the Trump

administration so far with lawsuits from

private property owners delaying the

federal land acquisition process but the

US border is hardening under Trump more

than

hundred and fifty-seven miles of wall

have replaced small or older structures

guardrails and wire mesh fences replaced

with towering steel beams in these areas

crews are working to build up security

infrastructure complete with access

roads and lighting no where is the

construction impact clearer than near

the Luke ville port of entry in southern

Arizona

ABC News travelled there in February

before nationwide pandemic shut down

orders Tucson Sector division chief

Daniel Peres has studied this landscape

since stepping into his current role

last year with the new system you'll

have technology that not only one will

detect the incursions but what the

additional lighting will also have an

opportunity to get a good a good sense

of what not only is happening on this

side of the border but also what

potential threats might be on the south

side we can redeploy our forces where we

might not have some of this technology

or it might be a little bit more

difficult to patrol so this is the

existing fence between the United States

and Mexico so these kind of breaches

these happen almost daily this is one

way that this wall is being defeated and

that that just really makes it important

for us to update our infrastructure the

way we are with the new border wall

system we're a so-called vehicle barrier

designed to stop the illegal crossing of

cars and trucks once stood now massive

panels of 30 foot steel beams get

anchored into the ground but in the

walls path lands with ancestral ties to

the Tohono awesome Native American tribe

so now we're forced to have to accept a

wall that divides our nation our land is

what keeps us humble happy peaceful

people the Trump administration has

issued waivers for several environmental

and cultural heritage protection laws in

specific areas designated for wall

construction as far as I'm concerned the

wall crossed our people we didn't cross

the wall construction crews in southern

Arizona conducted controlled blasts

earlier this year along Monument Hill a

peak that straddles the border on the

outskirts of the national organ pipe

wildlife preserve the same day of the

detonations in February the Tohono

autumn tribes chairman sat before

Congress it's hard to see the blasting

that you showed on the video today

because I know in my heart and what our

elders have told us and what we have

learned that that area is home to our

ancestors and by blasting and doing what

we saw today has totally disturbed holy

forever damaged our people environmental

advocates have spent months in this

remote corner of desert documenting the

plowing and excavation and demanding

more protections for animal and plant

life Customs and Border Protection

officials have insisted that

environmental standards are being

followed and that they are doing more

than required we've made our best

attempt to really broaden you know who

we talked to to get information not just

federal partners state partners lots of

you know professionals that have good

information about you know what could

potentially be affected by what we're

doing out here but concerns remain about

the water level in a nearby spring heavy

machinery in the area using an average

of eighty four thousand gallons of water

every day according to CBP another

feature of the nearby wildlife preserve

the saguaros cactus hundreds have been

pulled from the ground to make way for

new access roads while CBP says most our

planted elsewhere the excavation has

advocates crime found they are

stunningly beautiful plants each one of

them has individual character each one

of them is a living piece of natural

history and it is disgraceful it makes

me feel sick to see them butchered in

chopped up an ancient landscape of

people and nature slowly transformed by

the war Terry Moran

ABC News Washington hi everyone George

Stephanopoulos here thanks for checking

out the ABC News YouTube channel if

you'd like to get more videos show

highlights and watch live event coverage

click on the right over here to

subscribe to our Channel and don't

forget to download the ABC News app for

breaking news alerts thanks for watching