As the Trump administration advanced plans to erect a multibillion-dollar wall on the southern border, the leader of Mexico’s national governors association said Saturday in Washington that President Donald Trump’s budget proposal proves that U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill.
Trump has insisted that he will force Mexico to pay for the wall, but Mexican officials have refused. The president’s budget request Thursday included $2.6 billion, mostly for first stages of the wall.
“Trump is asking the Americans to pay for the wall,” Gov. Graco Ramírez of the Mexican state of Morelos said in a news conference. “The first victory is ours.” Ramírez, who is president of the National Conference of Governors of Mexico, was in Washington for a meeting at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Ramírez spoke hours after U.S. Customs and Border Protection opened bidding for contracts to craft prototypes of the wall, a step toward fulfilling a campaign promise Trump made to build a “big, beautiful, powerful wall” to keep out illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.
The two requests for proposals offer a first glimpse at the administration’s vision for the border, which already has hundreds of miles of fencing. One request calls for prototypes of reinforced concrete, while the second is open-ended, and could include durable see-through material.
Both prototypes call for a 30-foot-high-wall, though 18 feet may be acceptable, and one that is “aesthetically pleasing in color” – at least from the U.S. side.
Omitted from the requests is the word “impenetrable” – a quality Trump vowed the wall would have. But the requests for proposals seemed to acknowledge that might not be possible.
Instead, the requests say the prototypes must be able to withstand “for a minimum of 1 hour” efforts to breach it by punching, using a sledgehammer, or a “car jack, pick axe, chisel, battery operated impact tools, battery operated cutting tools, Oxy/acetylene torch or other similar handheld tools.” The requests also say the wall must have anti-climbing devices and mechanisms to prevent tunneling under it to a depth of six feet.
“It shall not be possible for a human to climb to the top of the wall or access the top of the wall from either side unassisted (e.g. via the use of a ladder, etc.),” the requests for proposals said.
The deadline for submitting proposals is March 29 and a federal official said the first contracts will be issued this summer. Soon afterward, the companies will build the prototypes in San Diego, where they will be tested.
The requests say the wall should be cost-effective to build and repair.
Federal officials declined to comment Saturday on the cost estimate for the wall, but the numbers have ranged from $12 billion to $21 billion, according to the Associated Press.
Ramírez, the governor from Mexico, said he was confident that Republicans and Democrats in Congress would defeat Trump’s budget.
“There are Republicans and Democrats who aren’t going to approve of that,” he said. “We have well-founded hopes.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Maria Sacchetti