Philip Molnar, LA Times, April 4, 2017
Imagine a border wall made of solar panels or a booby trap of nuclear waste where the United States meets Mexico.
Those were some of the proposals submitted for a 2,000-mile barrier along the Mexico border, a cornerstone of President Trump’s campaign. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will choose roughly 20 companies from among the bidders, who then will be invited to build prototype designs on federal land in San Diego County.
The wall has yet to be funded, as Congress is expected to debate the upcoming federal budget for much of April. Trump originally said he would get Mexico to pay for the wall, but has since pushed for federal spending to begin the process.
The Trump administration said winning bids must be structures at least 30 feet tall that cannot be climbed over or dug under for at least 6 feet. The side facing the U.S. should be “aesthetically pleasing in color,” the instructions said.
It is not clear whether the government, which is expected to select the winning designs around June 1, would release them to the public.
Speaking to an unnamed U.S. official with knowledge of the plans, the Associated Press said the government would spend $200,000 to $500,000 on each prototype, and the Border Patrol and local police would establish a buffer zone at the site where they are constructed.
Submitting a bid, let alone winning, can bring risks.
Several Latino business owners have reported death threats since it became public they were bidding on the wall, according to the Washington Post.
One San Diego company, R.E. Staite Engineering, was the subject of a protest last week. One sign placed outside the business said, “This company is selling its soul.”
Another bidder, Concrete Contractors Interstate, which has been in San Diego County for more than 30 years, has 55 employees, many of whom are Latino. Owner Russ Baumgartner decided to ask his workers before putting in a bid.
“The overall response was, ‘Our family comes first. If it keeps us busy, go for it,’” Baumgartner said.