Despite uncertainly over funding, Customs and Border Protection officials have awarded contracts for border wall prototypes to four companies.
The companies will be tasked with presenting designs for a reinforced concrete wall that is 18 to 30 feet high. The designs will allow officials to evaluate the proposals for new designs that could complement the wall and barrier designs that have been used for the past several years.
The winning companies are:
- Caddell Construction Co., of Montgomery, Alabama
- Fisher Industries, of Tempe, Arizona
- Texas Sterling Construction Co., of Houston
- W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co., of Philadelphia, Mississippi
The agency will make a decision in the next week on a bidding request for designs involving “other materials.” Officials expect construction of prototypes in the fall and will meet with companies to work out the timeline.
Agency officials called a prototyping an “industry-tested approach to identify additional solutions” during development of a new product or method. The prototypes will allow officials to decide the best way to build the wall.
The money for the prototypes — which will cost $400,000 to $500,000 — comes from $20 million that the Department of Homeland Security shifted from other priorities.
Chris Chmielenski, director of content and activism at NumbersUSA, said the contracts are a sign that the administration is “holding firm” despite resistance from Democrats.
“They’re just kind of ignoring what they’re hearing on the other side of the aisle,” he said.
Long-term, though, President Donald Trump cannot build the wall without substantial funding from a skeptical Congress.
“At this point, it’s more of a ‘taste test,’ to see what prototype will get the job done,” Federation for American Immigration Reform spokesman Dave Ray wrote in an email to LifeZette. “But in terms of moving forward and building the wall after the prototype is selected, they will certainly need the funds from Congress.”
Chmielenski said the administration’s goals of the $1.6 billion requested for the fiscal year that starts in October are modest. It mostly would pay to repair and upgrade existing fencing and add a small number of new barriers. It should be noncontroversial, he said, adding that it is incumbent upon House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to frame it that way.
“A lot of this just boils down to how much Speaker Ryan and Mitch McConnell will be honest about what Trump is asking for,” he said.
Added Ray: “The administration, along with the U.S. Border Patrol, has repeatedly stressed the importance of the border wall as one part of a comprehensive strategy to regain control of illegal immigration. President Trump promised to get the wall built, and his supporters will be looking for continued progress on that promise.”