The U.S. government received “hundreds” of bids to build prototypes of a wall along the country's border with Mexico, according to federal contracting documents updated this week.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol had previously declined to comment on how many companies ultimately submitted designs by the early April deadline. The agency did not provide a specific number in its notice, posted online Tuesday, noting only that the bids for concrete and non-concrete wall ideas each totaled in the "low hundreds."
The government just has funding for mock-ups of the designs. As part of the multi-phase process, up to 20 bidders will be selected as early as May 8 for a second round of competition on both versions. From there, the government says it will choose “multiple” companies to build 9-meter (30-feet) -long prototypes on a budget of $200,000 to $500,000 near the U.S.-Mexico border on federal land in southern California.
According to the government's timeline shared with contractors, the prototypes would be built this summer.
The submitted designs are not public, but some companies have shared their proposals, which included solar panels, artwork, and viewing platforms.
'From sea to shinning sea'
Though fencing and walls exist along parts of the border already, U.S. President Donald Trump has regularly championed the idea of building a wall along the southern border as a security measure. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly last month clarified that a contiguous barrier “from sea to shining sea” — the Gulf of Mexico on the east end, and the Pacific Ocean on the west — would not be built.
Amid calls for staff reductions at other federal agencies, the administration has proposed substantial budget increases for homeland security and defense spending, but in recent days backed down on including funding for the wall in Congress' current spending bill.
Trump and budget director Mick Mulvaney said Tuesday that the agreed-upon budget would furnish hundreds of millions of dollars for the wall, but as highlighted by an Associated Press report early Wednesday, the bill provides money to border security efforts like repairing existing fencing and barriers built “years ago under previous presidents.” It does not fund any further construction.
Tuesday's update from CBP reiterates that the prototypes could be a starting point for “the design of potential walls that could be considered for actual construction in the future,” but that “future construction” will require new contracts and the “availability of budget for that construction.”