Construction companies reportedly submitted hundreds of designs for a controversial wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but numerous larger firms chose to sit out bidding for the massive, politically volatile project.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that up to 450 companies filed bids by Tuesday's deadline. The government stipulated that the wall be least 18 feet high and incorporate systems to deter climbing, but several designs included additional, unconventional aspects — from solar panels to a monorail system to a gap for wildlife to pass through.
The window to submit plans for the roughly 2,000-mile structure was originally scheduled for March 17-29, but was pushed back amid questions from potential bidders. The Department of Homeland Security is expected to select 20 finalists by June, who will then be invited to build prototypes in southern California.
An initial analysis by The Wall Street Journal last week indicated that some of the bidding companies had previous ties to President Donald Trump and that a substantial percentage were owned by minorities.
Mario Burgos, the son of an Ecuadorian immigrant and owner of a New Mexico construction company that filed a proposal, told the Journal that he is not against immigration but that, "There isn’t a country in the world that doesn’t have borders and doesn’t want to enforce them.”
Numerous larger firms, however, are reportedly sitting the project out amid widespread criticism of the proposal. Trump made a border wall the centerpiece of his campaign for president and vowed that Mexico would pay for it — which was promptly dismissed by Mexican officials.
Unnamed company officials told the Journal and CNN that they worried about their business overseas, and the paper noted that California is considering limiting investments and contracts with companies that work on the wall.
The Trump administration is seeking $1.5 billion to begin the project, but congressional Republicans indicated that it is unlikely to remain in the budget. The overall project could cost more than $20 billion.