By Eli Meixler
October 20, 2017

Funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall may be mired in Congress, but along the U.S.-Mexico border, there’s been a little more progress.

Eight models of Trump’s long-promised border wall, now with an estimated price tag of $1.6 billion, have been erected in San Diego’s Otay Mesa outskirts.

Four of the wall models are made of concrete, four of concrete with steel reinforcements, and one is topped with spikes, NPR reports. All stand between 18 and 30 feet in height, and are being built by six firms at a cost of $20 million for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which selected the firms in late September. Contracts range from $400,000 to $500,000, Reuters reported at the time.

“We want a better barrier. One that is hard to scale, hard to penetrate and hard to tunnel under,” says Roy Villareal, San Diego Border Patrol chief.

Local CBP officials are aware that they’re courting controversy with the wall prototypes, saying it could even become the kind of national political magnet that drew protestors to North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux reservation last year to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. Officials set aside a “free speech zone” for demonstrators, but none have shown up since construction started three weeks ago

The construction has caught the attention of Trump, however, who tweeted a video montage on October 18:

The wall is still far from a reality, however. Congressional Democrats have demanded that border wall funding be removed from any deal to reform DACA, the Obama-era immigration plan to protect some 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. The state of California also filed a lawsuit in a San Diego court in late September to block the wall’s construction.

Write to Eli Meixler at eli.meixler@time.com.

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