Trump visits California to see wall prototypes near Mexico border

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 deterrentto 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."

RELATED: President Trump's border wall prototypes

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President Donald Trump's border wall prototypes
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President Donald Trump's border wall prototypes
A border patrol officer stands next to some of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes as they near completion along U.S.- Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Federal agents patrol next to U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes as they near completion along U.S.- Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
One of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes is pictured along U.S.- Mexico border near San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Seven of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes are shown near completion along U.S.- Mexico border near San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
One of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes is pictured along U.S.- Mexico border near San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Two of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes are shown near completion along U.S.- Mexico border near San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A prototype for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico is seen behind the current border fence in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
A prototype for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico is seen in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
Prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico are shown near completion behind the current border fence, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border, in Tijuana, Mexico, October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
Three of U.S. President Donald Trump's eight border wall prototypes are shown near completion along U.S.- Mexico border in San Diego, California, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A prototype for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico is shown in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border, in Tijuana, Mexico, October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
Prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico are shown near completion in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border, in Tijuana, Mexico, October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People (R) work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
People work in San Diego, California, U.S., at the construction site of prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
Prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico are seen behind the current border fence in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico are seen behind the current border fence in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
A prototype for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico is seen in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
A prototype for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico is seen in this picture taken from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
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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.

The image shows the concrete portion of the wall (E) would sit on the U.S.-facing side of an electronically monitored zone and another barrier (B) — which is see-through — faces Mexico. The monitoring zone would be about 150 feet wide and alert patrol agents if anyone breached the initial border barrier.

There's no clear time frame for construction, and funding for it is stalled in Congress.

2. What are the prototypes?

The eight prototypes are 18 to 30 feet tall. Half are concrete walls, and the other half is made from "other materials." In total, they cost taxpayers $2.4 million to $4 million.

They currently sit on federal land in San Diego, where the president is scheduled to stop on his California trip.

Several contractors were awarded $300,000 to $500,000 for each prototype, which were built last year to help guide construction.

DHS announced last year the companies awarded contracts to build concrete and nonconcrete portions of the wall. They are: Caddell Construction of Montgomery, Alabama; W.G. Yates & Sons Construction of Philadelphia; Fisher Industries of Tempe, Arizona; Texas Sterling Construction Co., of Houston; KWR Construction in Sierra Vista, Arizona; and ELTA North America Inc., in Annapolis Junction, Maryland.

Caddell and W.G Yates & Sons won bids on both the concrete and nonconcrete portions.

In January, military special forces and special units with Customs and Border Protection spent three weeks trying to breach and scale the eight models in San Diego, using jackhammers, saws, torches and other tools and climbing devices. They were unsuccessful, according to officials.

RELATED: Where the wall already exists along the US-Mexico border

29 PHOTOS
Where the wall already exists along the US-Mexico border
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Where the wall already exists along the US-Mexico border
A gap in the U.S.-Mexico border fence is seen outside Jacumba, California, United States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
U.S. customs and border patrol officers inspect a vehicle entering the U.S. from Mexico at the border crossing in San Ysidro, California, United States, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
U.S. customs and border patrol officers inspect a vehicle entering the U.S. from Mexico at the border crossing in San Ysidro, California, United States, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
Men talk on a street in the town of Calexico, California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A U.S. customs and border patrol officer stands at a border crossing in San Ysidro, California, United States, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Recent arrivals from Mexico wait to board a greyhound bus in San Ysidro, California, United States, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Highway 82 towards Douglas, Arizona is seen near Sonoita, Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
Clouds float above the border towns of Nogales, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona, United States, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A sign warning drivers that firearms and ammunition are prohibited in Mexico is seen at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona, United States, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Buildings in Nogales, Mexico (R) are separated by a border fence from Nogales, Arizona, United Sates, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
An abandoned car sits off the side of a road near Jacumba, California, United States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A worker makes his way through the water after setting up an irrigation system on an agricultural field, near Calexico, California, U.S. October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
An abandoned car sits off the side of a road near Jacumba, California, United States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A church at the Museum of History in Granite is seen in Felicity, California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A man drives a tractor plowing a field at sunrise near Calexico, California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
Residential homes are seen next to the fence that borders Mexico, in Douglas, Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Pedestrians wait to cross the street in Calexico, California, Unites States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The town of Bisbee is seen in Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Pedestrians make their way into the the United States from Mexico at the pedestrian border in Nogales, Arizona, United States, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A roadside collection of alien dolls and toy UFO saucers is seen next to a roadside residence neat Jacumba, California, United States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A road abruptly ends next to a sign for a cattle ranch near Douglas, Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A boy rides an all-terrain vehicle next Mexican border along the Buttercup San Dunes in California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
An old refurbished gas station is seen in Lowell, Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A man rides a tricycle past a grocery store in a town that borders Mexico, in San Luis Butter, California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A U.S. customs and border patrol truck drives past the fence that marks the border between U.S. and Mexico, in Calexico, California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A truck drives west towards California along highway 8 near Gila Bend, Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Electronic items are displayed in a shop window in Calexico, California, United States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A residential home is seen in Nogales, Arizona, United States, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A fence separates the border towns of Nogales, Mexico (R) and Nogales, Arizona, United Sates, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
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3. Is there money to build it?

No. At the beginning of the year, the Trump administration requested $18 billion over 10 years to construct roughly 700 miles of wall along the southern border, according to the Department of Homeland Security. (Internal DHS assessments suggest the cost could be higher — as much as $21 billion.) However, the request was rejected by Congress.

The Trump administration has also struggled to secure funding to cover just 72 miles of priority areas along the border near San Diego and the Rio Grande Valley. In April 2017, the White House sought $1.8 billion as a down payment to build 28 miles of levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley and 14 miles of new wall to replace fences south of San Diego. However, that proposal was also rejected.

Most recently, Trump has pressured Democrats in Congress to approve the funding (and other hardline immigration measures) in exchange for allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, and who had been protected by the Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, to remain. Lawmakers declined.

Trump tweeted last month that sections of the wall will not be built "until the whole Wall is approved."

4. Will Mexico pay for the wall?

Doesn't look like it, although Trump continues to make this crowd-pleasing claim. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has consistently rejected paying for it, while Mexico's secretary of foreign affairs said last April that the border wall is not only a "bad idea" but an "unfriendly, hostile" act that wouldn't accomplish anything.

Additionally, a tentatively planned White House visit by Nieto was scrapped last month after a phone call between Trump and Nieto became heated over the wall, according to The Washington Post. The paper, citing unnamed sources, reported that both countries mutually agreed to abandon the visit after Trump refused to agree to publicly state Mexico's position that it would not fund his border wall.

5. So, where will the money come from?

American taxpayers will foot the bill, which breaks a major Trump campaign promise at the heart of his hardline immigration pitch to voters.

Trump has said this is simply "for the sake of speed" and that the money spent by American taxpayers will ultimately be reimbursed by Mexico.

Earlier this year, he claimed that Mexico would end up funding the wall"indirectly" if the North American Free Trade Agreement is renegotiated.

6. What else could go wrong?

The wall continues to be a crowd-pleaser during Trump's campaign-style rallies, but it also faces serious geographic and legal constraints. Critics have raised a number of environmental and other issues associated with building the wall, such as government seizure of private property.

Last August, the Department of Homeland Security said it would waive more than three dozen laws and regulations — most of which require an environmental review — to push ahead with the first phase of construction. The move mostly pertained to a 14-mile stretch of the wall in the San Diego area.

The administration scored a win last month when a federal judge sided with Trump and rejected arguments by the state of California and a coalition of environmental groups that said the administration had improperly ignored environmental laws in its push to build the wall.

Meanwhile, the need to procure land from private citizens in the Southwest would be also a barrier to building the wall.

In one case, Cards Against Humanity, makes of a popular card game, bought land on the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to stall the border wall.

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