The true believers within the Trump administration love the idea of the border wall on the U.S.–Mexico border, and like any beloved item in 2019, they intend to overexpose it online. According to a report from the Washington Post, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is leading a push to livestream construction of the southern border wall 24 hours a day, to the chagrin of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers.
“There will be a wall cam, and it’ll launch early next year,” a senior White House official involved in the plan told the Post. If the plan goes through, Trump’s son-in-law will largely be to thank: Since July, he has scheduled border-wall meetings every two weeks to press for quicker construction and dismiss excuses. (Despite his impossibly busy schedule and underwhelming track record, Trump has tasked Kushner to manage the border-wall messaging since he became frustrated with the pace of construction during the government shutdown.) “It’s understood that Kushner is so aggressive because the president has been asking him about it all the time,” a senior White House official told the Post.
Like most Trump construction projects, the streaming plan could face unanticipated problems:
Officials at the Army Corps and CBP also were concerned the cameras would show U.S. work crews violating Mexican sovereignty because they sometimes must stray south of the border to maneuver their vehicles and heavy equipment in the desert. Because some of the remote border areas lack network access, the cameras will require their own web connectivity and attendants who could frequently reposition them to keep the lens pointed at the action …
The Army Corps and CBP have told Kushner that construction contractors do not want their proprietary techniques visible to competitors, according to four people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal discussions … Kushner believes the project has suffered from lackluster effort and a lack of urgency, the White House official said, and he does not believe contractors’ claims that their construction methods are proprietary.
The obvious reason for such a project is that the Republican base is largely supportive of the border wall, and Trump wants to ensure that support in an election year. Hardline, extremely economically anxious Trump supporters have grown frustrated by the lack of progress on the wall: Though it has already cost taxpayers $10 billion, the administration has built only 81 miles of the wall to-date, much of which is just replacement of extant barriers. There have also been reports of smugglers sawing through the wall, which Trump claimed was impossible.
In a sense, the livestream is the perfect Trumpian answer to the problem of molasses-slow pace of construction: a politically expedient solution that provides the appearance of doing something without actually having to deliver. It’s like the stack of papers showing how Trump did (not) divest from his businesses in January 2017, or that other stack of papers wrapped in ribbon designed to show how he slashed regulations — but with a few GoPros sitting, streaming, melting in the Rio Grande Valley.