US Seeks Contractors for Border Wall
The federal government has begun the process of soliciting contractors for the design and construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico, a pillar of President Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign.
According to reports, U.S. Customs and Border Protection posted a “pre-solicitation” Friday (Feb. 24), indicating that it plans to request bids for the design-build contract for “prototype wall structures” on March 6, with concept papers outlining the design and process due March 10. The list of contenders will be narrowed down later in March before a request for more specific proposals, with contracts issued as early as mid-April.
Contractors Lining Up
The Hill reported Tuesday (Feb. 28) that more than 200 companies have already expressed interest in the job. The exact scale of the wall or walls to be built in this early phase is unclear; the pre-solicitation refers only to prototype structures “in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico.”
The posting also notes that “an option for additional miles may be included in each contract award.”
During the campaign, Trump said the wall would stand 35 to 40 feet tall, constructed of precast concrete. After the election, he said that he would accept fencing in some areas. The U.S.-Mexico border stretches nearly 2,000 miles, with about 670 miles currently divided by fencing, much of which was built after a 2006 authorization.
In early February, Reuters acquired a report from the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Customs and Border Protection, which predicted the entirety of the walls and fences that would make up a border barrier would cost up to $21.6 billion and take more than three years to build. That plan indicated that the building of the wall would occur in three phases.
|U.S. Customs and Border Protection, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons|
The U.S.-Mexico border stretches nearly 2,000 miles, with about 670 miles currently divided by fencing, much of which was built after a 2006 authorization.
At the time of that report, Trump said he had not been directly involved in the planning, and predicted that costs would come down when he stepped into the process. He had previously predicted an overall cost of about $12 billion.
Who Will Pay?
Trump has long held that Mexico will pay for the wall; on Wednesday (March 1), Vice President Mike Pence echoed that sentiment in an interview with ABC. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has said his country would not bankroll the project.
The Trump administration has not indicated exactly how Mexico will be compelled to reimburse the U.S. for the cost of design and construction, but methods that have been discussed include increased visa costs, tariffs or pressuring the Mexican government by either decreasing visa quantities or preventing Mexican nationals from wiring money home from the United States.