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Trump team makes first move to build border wall

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 24, 2017

A section of the border fence is shown, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, along the U.S.-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas. (Jason Hoekema / Brownsville Herald via AP)
A section of the border fence is shown, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, along the U.S.-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas. (Jason Hoekema / Brownsville Herald via AP)
By Cary O’Reilly and Robert Levinson Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s administration is soliciting ideas from contractors on how to build its promised wall between the U.S. and Mexico, a first tangible step toward delivering on the president’s signature campaign promise to curb unauthorized immigration.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a preliminary request for proposals Friday, saying it plans to release a formal solicitation around March 6 “for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico.”

Vendors were asked to submit prototype concepts by March 10. Those that advance would submit proposals including prices by March 24. “Multiple awards are contemplated” by mid-April, it said. No monies have been designated for the project.

Trump signed an executive order last month to begin preliminary steps toward building the wall, which could stretch almost 2,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. No cost estimates were included, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has said his plan is to “secure our southern border with effective physical barriers, advanced technology, and strategic deployment of law enforcement personnel.”

Konstantin Kakaes, an international security fellow with the New America Foundation, has estimated the cost of a 1,000-mile concrete wall 50 feet high, with 10 feet below ground, at $38 billion.

Construction companies that have done work for the federal government and may respond to the preliminary request for proposals include: Bechtel Group Inc., which builds airports and nuclear power plants and has done almost $3 billion in work for the U.S. since the beginning of fiscal 2013; BL Harbert International Inc. ($2 billion); and Caddell Construction Co. ($1.9 billion).

One of the biggest beneficiaries of Trump’s wall may be Mexico’s Cemex SAB, the largest cement maker in the Americas, Bloomberg News reported Jan. 25. It would be one of the best-positioned companies to profit because it has operations on both sides of the border.

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