Trump Administration Unveils First Step In Building Border Wall
In the first tangible step toward delivering on Trump’s campaign promise to halt unauthorized immigration from Mexico, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Friday released plans for picking vendors for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, issuing a preliminary request for proposals saying it plans to release a formal solicitation around March 6 “for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico.”
In a document on the federal government’s website for business opportunities, the CPB said it would release a request on or about March 6 asking companies for prototype ideas for a wall to be built near the U.S.-Mexican border. Vendors were asked to submit prototype concepts by March 10. After reviewing the ideas submitted by vendors, the agency will evaluate and select the best designs by March 20, then issue a request for proposals by March 24 in which vendors would be asked to price out the cost of building the proposed wall.
A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Reuters the solicitation published on Friday had “everything to do” with the wall that Trump has proposed. The spokesman said the initial request for information was to give industry the opportunity to tell the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees CBP, what is possible in constructing a border wall. “Once we get feedback from the vendors, we’ll look at the ones that are most feasible,” the spokesman said. That would be followed by the request for proposals to firm up exactly how much constructing the wall would cost.
The document says multiple awards for the barrier are expected by mid-April as part of the process, an aggressive schedule for a government construction project. “It’s going to start soon. Way ahead of schedule, way ahead of schedule,” Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security internal report seen by Reuters this month indicated the border wall would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion to build and take more than three years to complete. The report’s estimated price tag is much higher than a $12 billion figure cited by Trump in his campaign and estimates as high as $15 billion from Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The plan laid out what it would take to seal the border in three phases of construction of fences and walls covering just over 1,250 miles (2,000 km) by the end of 2020. With 654 miles (1,046 km) of the border already fortified, the new construction would extend almost the length of the entire border.
Last month, Trump signed an executive order to begin preliminary steps toward building the wall. No cost estimates were included, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has said his plan is to “secure our southern border with effective physical barriers, advanced technology, and strategic deployment of law enforcement personnel.”
According to Bloomberg, Konstantin Kakaes, an international security fellow with the New America Foundation, has estimated the cost of a 1,000-mile concrete wall 50 feet high, with 10 feet below ground, at $38 billion.
Bloomberg also notes that construction companies that have done work for the federal government and may respond to the preliminary request for proposals include: Bechtel Group Inc., which builds airports and nuclear power plants and has done almost $3 billion in work for the U.S. since the beginning of fiscal 2013; BL Harbert International Inc. ($2 billion); and Caddell Construction Co. ($1.9 billion).
Ironically, one of the biggest beneficiaries of Trump’s wall may be Mexico’s Cemex SAB, the largest cement maker in the Americas, Bloomberg News reported Jan. 25. It would be one of the best-positioned companies to profit because it has operations on both sides of the border.