SAN YSIDRO, Calif. (KGTV) -- For years we’ve watched President Trump and Democrats fighting over a border wall. Each side standing their ground, grinding the government to a halt.
But we wanted to know, what do Border Patrol agents want, and need? We asked Rodney Scott, Chief Patrol Agent for Customs and Border Protection of the San Diego Sector. The answer we got: it all depends on the terrain they patrol in the 2,000 mile stretch of border with Mexico.
"The proper wall was never built. I'll get it built," said President Donald Trump during his 2019 State of the Union address.
It's that word, "wall," that's the real barrier when it comes to Washington gridlock.
"This fence, as you can see, it's almost a built-in ladder," says Chief Scott pointing to a piece of Vietnam-era scrap metal used as fencing on the border with Tijuana.
But for the men and women who patrol the border, "wall" doesn't always mean a menacing concrete barrier as President Trump once suggested on the campaign trail. Instead, it has many different definitions depending on the need.
"Wall to the U.S. Border Patrol means access roads, it means physical impedance, it means technology, it means personnel. And it may not be the exact same thing everywhere," explains Chief Scott.
Here on the border with Tijuana, "wall" means numerous impediments. ATV's, air patrol, and yes, in some locations, an actual physical barrier 18, sometimes 30 feet high buried in concrete to keep migrants from digging beneath it.
"How deep does the concrete run here,” we asked in our interview with Chief Scott. “So, a minimum of 6 feet. Some places it goes deeper depending on the height of the fence as well as the terrain," answers Chief Scott.
But to the east, that terrain in the Otay Mountains makes the job of Border Patrol even more difficult to track illegal crossings. Here a 20-foot fence is not nearly enough. Cameras are also limited because of blind spots, so it comes down to the workforce.
"That personnel is our most valuable asset, but it's also our most expensive," explains Chief Scott.
Even further east in remote areas like Boulevard and Jacumba Hot Springs, we've met neighbors on the border who take border security into their own hands spending thousands building their own fence to protect their land from illegal crossing.
"Over the last 30 years we've spent $20 grand," says Bob Maupin.
Maupin has been featured around the world recently. He built his own chain link fence topped with razor wire to keep illegal immigrants off his land.
Maupin considers the border fence here almost useless. As we saw last week in social media posts from Border Patrol, it is not only easy to climb over or tunnel under, illegal migrants just knock it down and go right through it.
But as we've learned, this fence was never meant to be a fence. It was just a stopgap.
"It wasn't designed as a fence,” says Chief Scott. It wasn't designed as a border wall if you will, it's military landing mat that was left over from the Vietnam era. We basically just took scrap metal that the military had, and we turned it into a border fence because we knew desperately we needed something to delineate the border."