- U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has selected an estimated 20 finalists to design prototypes for the U.S.–Mexico border wall, but the agency hasn't released their names, according to Bloomberg.
- The agency said it plans to notify the contractors in the coming days, and contracts for the prototypes are expected to be in the $200,000 to $500,000 range.
- The finalists will build wall models at a San Diego border crossing site, which was selected in part because the barrier in that location has been penetrated previously approximately 800 times in a year.
The general wall specifications dictate that it should reach a suggested height of 30 feet but be no shorter than 18 feet. Contractors were also told to submit their designs under two categories — either made with reinforced concrete or some other material. The wall must also be hard to scale and resistant — for at least an hour — to tool-based efforts to get through it. Aesthetics are also a factor, with bidders instructed to make the wall pleasing to the eye from the U.S. side.
Regardless of who is ultimately selected to build the wall, funding remains a big issue. The agency has only a reported $20 million to spend on wall construction thus far. The latest estimates are that it would take about $22 billion to fill in the gaps of a 1,000-mile stretch of barriers. President Donald Trump included a relatively small line item for wall construction in his proposed 2018 budget, but the stopgap bill that will keep the government running until the end of September includes no allowances for it.
During the presidential campaign, Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall, but there have been no solid efforts yet to fulfill that promise.
When the prospective finalists are announced, they can most likely expect pushback from the public as well as from various municipalities that have vowed not to do business with any companies that bid on the wall. San Francisco, Oakland, CA, Los Angeles and New York City officials are considering legislation that would bar those companies from bidding on public work, and some of the biggest U.S. infrastructure firms — like AECOM and Bechtel — have said they will not participate in the border wall project.