State of the Union 2019: Donald Trump’s full speech
Stacey Abrams delivers the Democratic response to the State of the Union Address
Journalists from the USA TODAY NETWORK flew and drove the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border in search for answers. This is what they found.
A USA TODAY Network video production.
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watch clearcuts not playing we are coming off the Gulf of Mexico right now moving into the mouth of the Rio Grande River starting a 2,000 mile expedition or journey along the us-mexico border through Texas and on to New Mexico Arizona coming out in San Diego California our mission is to survey and inspect the border fencing in the border security systems all along the way what all would be involved with trying to build what that President Trump has called a big beautiful wall along much of the border as we were flying along I didn't know where the border was especially in Texas because there is no fence there's no no barrier the only thing we had to guide us basically was inside the helicopter we had a software system hooked up to our video camera so I could look at the video screen and it showed a red line delineating where the border is based on GPS markings the border in Texas follows the Rio Grande the entire length of the state it's over 1,200 miles it's more than half of the entire us-mexico border my assignment was to drive the whole extent of the us-mexico border we started in the Gulf of Mexico from there we just headed west there's some places where you can just walk right up to the river where you can't even you don't even know where the international border is almost certainly is the first sign of there's a 650 miles or so by fencing the whole two thousand mile border 300 miles our vehicle barrier they're not designed to stop human traffic but what you have is a border that's 2,000 miles long with roughly 350 miles of pedestrian fencing the rest of its open more or less there's a distinction that's kind of getting lost in the political debate about this whole thing and that is people are now referring to the fence that exists as a wall and it's not a wall the wall that the president has called for is 20 feet at least and more likely 30 feet tall the existing fencing at that very highest is 18 feet much of its 15 feet and there's only 300 miles of that for me something that I think surprises a lot of people is that the border you think of it as this dangerous dark place that you know kind of feels sketchy or or that you're afraid to be in but most of these places are just regular small towns cities and if there wasn't 15 18 feet fence next to them you wouldn't know that you're in the border one of the things that was really driven home by this trip was was just the immense distances we're talking about but also the incredible topography the landscape challenges that exist to building any kind of suggested the border wall might be built in a place like this it seems unrealistic because of the topography and the sheer distances you're looking for it scores of miles without seeing any anything really we're now in the Barry Goldwater air force range it's a kind of a roller coaster of craggy mountains the border runs right through them and we fly up and over them it's a really parched and desolate desert with fierce heat little shade no water it's maybe one of the most treacherous places to try to enter the United States those illegal crossers who choose this kind of route must hike for days to reach roads or some way to get into the United States further many of them try and each year many of them die at the end of our trip we try to find the site where the prototype border walls were going to be built it's in an area outside of San Diego we had a map and we took a dirt road we were stopped by Border Patrol we told them what we were doing they said we couldn't either because it's private property so we had to turn away that was the end for Tripp this is the end of the line we've been going for Kennedy's 1985 nine miles or so four states dozens of town we've covered 653 miles of existing fence we've seen so far the CEO suspected illegal immigrants or smugglers and crossing the border zero people being apprehended by the Border Patrol during this trip we're now coming up to the Pacific Ocean a fence goes out to sea but obviously can't ride the surf so after it gets out way as it stops now the question remains little rocket built in milk what kind of law will instill how much it will cost and what collateral impacts there may be all those questions remain unanswered it will be up to Congress the president and the American people that is side exactly how all this plays out