President Donald Trump on Thursday repeated a lie that construction on his long-promised wall at the US-Mexico border had started.
"We started building our wall, I'm so proud of it. We started. We have $1.6 billion. You saw the pictures yesterday. I said what a thing of beauty," he said while addressing a crowd of union workers and supporters in Ohio.
Thing is, the pictures he was no doubt referring to were the ones he tweeted Wednesday, which were from work that began in 2009.
He wrote, "Great briefing this afternoon on the start of our Southern Border WALL!"
The 2009 construction project is to replace a 2.25-mile section in the California-Mexico border wall, according to a statement from US Customs and Border Protection in February. The original, made of scrap metal and other material, went up in the 1990s.
"Although the existing wall has proven effective at deterring unlawful cross border activity, smuggling organizations damaged and breached this outdated version of a border wall several hundred times during the last two years," Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said in a statement.
A Department of Homeland Security official told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that Trump had met with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan on Wednesday afternoon, but did not provide details of the briefing.
The Border Patrol office in San Diego tweeted pictures of the project in February, with some of them making it into Trump's tweet.
Trump has repeatedly promised to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and to compel Mexico to pay for it, a plan his Mexican counterparts have rebuffed multiple times.
White House chief of staff John Kelly said in January that Trump had "changed his attitude" on the wall and had started to favor paring back the wall's scale while acknowledging that Mexico would not pay for it, though the president contradicted Kelly's statements the next day.
Some of his most ardent supporters have turned against him for his perceived inaction on the wall. Ann Coulter, once a cheerleader of the president's views on immigration, recently called him "a shallow, lazy ignoramus."
Blake Montgomery is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Blake Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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