Trump administration picks companies to build border wall prototypes

Texas contractor is one of four firms picked to build concrete prototypes for Trump's border wall

The 18- to 30-foot-high walls would be set back a short distance from the border in order to give immigration agents a clear view of the dividing line between the US and Mexico.

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on Thursday that contracts have been awarded for concrete prototypes of the wall. Contracts for wall prototypes other than concrete are expected to be awarded within the next few weeks.

The four companies now under contract for prototypes are Fisher Industries of Tempe, AZ, Texas Sterling Construction Co., of Houston, TX, Caddell Construction of Montgomery, Alabama, and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction of Philadelphia, PA. Trump's fiscal 2018 budget request asks for $1.6 billion to begin construction for the wall and another $1 billion for border security technology.

However his promise for the southern neighbours to pay for it has been rejected by Mexican President Pena Nieto, who informed Mr Trump in August the country will not contribute funds to the project.

"Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall", Trump said.

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The money for the prototypes - which will cost $400,000 to $500,000 - comes from $20 million that the Department of Homeland Security shifted from other priorities. They have been "designed to deter illegal crossings in the area in which they are constructed", according to a CBP press release. The government specified that the wall must be insurmountable and "aesthetically pleasing in color", at least from the United States side.

House Republicans passed a bill to spend $1.6 billion for wall construction next year, good for 32 miles of new fence and 28 miles of new levee wall in Texas, and for replacing 14 miles of fencing in San Diego.

On completion, the government will evaluate the designs to determine which is the most suitable to implement on a massive scale along the U.S. -Mexico border.

According to The New York Times, "The companies selected will each have 30 days to complete the projects after the agency gives them the order to proceed". CBP acting deputy commissioner Ron Vitiello. He also said the officials will use small tools to test the prototype walls.

In March, CBP issued two requests for proposals to acquire conceptual wall designs.

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