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Statement: The barren, vegetation-free hillsides in Border Field State Park created by construction of a new 3.5-mile section of the U.S.-Mexico border fence are neither barren nor vegetation-free, a top federal border security official said in November.

After our story highlighted the potentially problematic impacts from border fence construction, Jayson Ahern, the acting chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, sent a letter to Congresswoman Susan Davis, who’d raised questions about the fence’s environmental impact. Plants were growing, he told Davis. You just can’t see them.

“[T]he existing re-vegetated areas are currently dormant and brown … and, thus, difficult to see from afar,” Ahern said.

Determination: Huckster propaganda

Analysis: I saw the hills before and after he made his claim. Both times: No plants. Since he made that false claim, his agency has said it will install a temporary irrigation system to make sure plants do grow. It’ll run for three to four years.

— ROB DAVIS

Summer Polacek

Summer Polacek was formerly the Development Manager at Voice of San Diego.

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