Eight prototypes of US President Donald Trump’s US-Mexico border wall have been built near San Diego.
Along with ‘locking up’ his rival for the presidency and ripping up the NAFTA trade deal, the promise to build a border wall along the entire 2,000-mile border was one of Trump’s defining campaign promises.
The Department of Homeland Security announced in August that prototypes for the barrier would be erected along the border in San Diego and Imperial counties. Companies had until October 26 to finish the models.
— CBP San Diego (@CBPSanDiego) October 20, 2017
“A fence that is impenetrable, it’s unscalable,” is how Roy Villareal, acting chief patrol agent of the San Diego border sector, described the wall that was required. “They can’t dig under it. They can’t cut through it.”
And yet, officials from US Customs and Border Protection have admitted that the wall was unlikely to plunge deep enough to prevent large, sophisticated tunnels from being built.
Seven tunnels have been found in the San Diego section of the US-Mexico frontier by Border Patrol this year alone. The ground in the area “is like Swiss cheese”, according to one US official.
The barriers vary in terms of material – some concrete, others metal – and in terms of shape, colour and thickness.
Bidding guidelines stipulated that prototypes should stand between 18 and 30 feet high and be able to withstand at least an hour of attack from a sledgehammer, pickaxe, torch, chisel or battery-operated tools (a similar process to the live demonstrations that took place in the LPCB Attack Testing Zone at IFSEC 2017).
— CBP San Diego (@CBPSanDiego) October 17, 2017
The prototypes will also be judged on how well they preclude would-be immigrants from surmounting them with grappling hooks and similar climbing equipment.
If security is the obvious priority, the bidders will also be looked upon favourably if their panels are deemed ‘aesthetically pleasing‘ (but only on the US side – presumably it matters less if they’re visually offensive to Mexicans on the other side).
Cost will surely be a factor too. Spaced 30 feet apart in a row, the towering panels have set the Department of Homeland Security back between $320,000 and $486,411 each. Trump still insists that Mexico will ultimately foot the bill for the entire border wall, however.
The wall still needs approval from Congress, from which Trump has requested $1.6bn to replace 14 miles of wall in San Diego and build 60 miles in Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
The government won’t necessarily only choose one prototype – they may use a combination or none at all, border officials say. It’s not yet clear whether President Trump himself will take the decision.
There are currently 654 miles of single-layer fence on the 1,954-mile border, plus 51 miles of double- and triple-layer fence.
Six companies are vying to win the lucrative contract to realise Trump’s vision, including Fisher Sand & Gravel Company in Tempe, Arizona; Texas Sterling Construction Company based in Houston, Texas; KWR Construction Incorporated based in Sierra Vista, Arizona; and ELTA North America Inc, the US arm of an Israeli defence contractor. Cadell Construction Company in Birmingham, Alabama and WG Yates & Sons Construction Company in Philadelphia, Mississippi, meanwhile, have submitted two prototypes apiece.
— CBP San Diego (@CBPSanDiego) October 13, 2017
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