Border Wall Prototypes Completed                                                                                                    ... more >
Oct. 25, 2017--Construction firms vying to build a new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border have completed eight border wall prototypes in Otay Mesa in the San Diego area.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) has been overseeing the construction process.  After allowing 30 days for curing, CBP will begin a testing and evaluation period of 30-60 days at the end of November.  The prototypes will be evaluated for resistance to digging, breaching, and scaling and climbing.  Elements of some, all or none of the prototypes may be selected.
“I will build a great wall—and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me—and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
Donald J. Trump  
Announcement Speech
June 2015

Building a border wall was one of Donald Trump's central promises during the 2016 presidential campaign.  Days into his new administration, on January 25, President Trump signed Executive Order 13767 (Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements) which called for "immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border, monitored and supported by adequate personnel so as to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism."  On February 20, then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a memorandum implementing the executive order. 

On March 17 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released RFPs for construction of the prototypes.  Among the threshhold requirements was that the wall be "physically imposing in height."  ("The Government’s nominal concept is for a 30-foot high wall.  Offerors should consider this height, but designs with heights of at least 18 feet may be acceptable.  Designs with heights of less than 18 feet are not acceptable.")  CBP reported receiving "several hundred submissions" which it narrowed down to "fewer than twenty potential bidders."  After a delay due to a protest from a vendor who was not selected as a finalist, the agency announced four contracts for concrete prototypes on August 31 and four contracts for alternate materials prototypes on September 7.  The contracts each ranged from $300,000 to $500,000.  Construction started on September 26.  Trump has made funding and completion of the border wall one of his top immigration policy priorities, but critics  question the effectiveness and need for a border wall (1).  Cost estimates for building a wall spanning 1,000 miles of the approximately 2,000-mille long border range from $12-25 billion or more (2).  The question of how to get Mexico to pay for the wall remains unanswered; at one point Trump advanced the idea putting solar panels on it to generate electricity and help cover the costs (3).
The San Diego Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol comprises 60 miles of land border and 114 miles of coastal border.  Forty-six miles of primary fencing consisting of Vietnam-era surplus landing mats 8-10 feet high was put up in 1991.  Its purpose is to stop vehicular traffic.
13.1 miles of secondary fencing, from 16-18 feet high was put up in 1997.  The steel mesh is relatively easy to cut and to fix; the Border Patrol fixes holes within 24 hours.  In 2016 there were approximately 550 compromises of this fencing in the San Diego Sector.

1. Third Mind Foundation: "Building the Border Wall?" Competition (2016)
Challenge: "To bring bold humanitarian solutions, creativity and innovation to bear on alternative ideas of a border wall, and in so doing, expand the boundaries and re-conceptualize the current debate beyond sound bytes, statistics, unrealistic monetary figures and polemics."

2. Chris Nichols.  "Would Trump’s border wall cost the same as one and a half U.S. aircraft carriers?"  PolitiFact California, Apr. 28, 2017.

3. Sophie Yeo.  "If you thought getting Mexico to pay for the wall couldn't get weirder, you were wrong."  The Washington Post, June 7, 2017.

Also of interest: Carisa Cegavske.  "Roseburg World War II vet builds prototype border wall in his yard."  The News-Review, Aug. 26, 2017.

Special thanks to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for assistance on this reporting.
revised Nov. 1, 2017
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