Newly completed section of border fence near Sunland, New Mexico
Newly completed section of border fence near Sunland, New MexicoREUTERS

The US-Mexico border wall, the construction of which was a central plank in President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, will be completed in two years, a senior administration official said on Thursday.

America’s porous 2,000 mile-long southern border with Mexico has long been a hot-button political issue and is the epicenter of a debate over illegal immigration and the federal government’s duty to enforce immigration laws.

After the passage of a 2006 law under President Bush authorizing construction of a partial barrier, the US fenced off roughly 600 miles of the US-Mexico border.

During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly pledged to extend the barriers, completing what he dubbed “the wall” and closing off the entire 2,000 mile southern border.

On Thursday, retired four-star Marine General and recently sworn-in Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told Fox News he released a rough timetable for completion of the wall, saying that he expected it to be completed within two years.

"The wall will be built where it's needed first, and then it will be filled in. That's the way I look at it," he said. "I really hope to have it done within the next two years."

The barrier, said Kelly, would include hi-tech detection equipment to aid border agents in monitoring illegal entrants and apprehending them.

"Any discussion about the protection of our southwest border involves discussion of physical barriers but also of technological sensors, things like that,” Kelly said. “But it's a layered approach, and it’s got to be backed up by great men and women who are going to make sure that the wall is intact."