Trump border wall to start in El Paso, 2 sites in Arizona, California


Starting locations will replace existing fence deemed “no longer effective.”

The federal government issued a preliminary solicitation for bids Friday for wall design and construction.

President Donald Trump is poised to make good on his signature issue — a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border — starting in El Paso and two sites in Arizona and California, as the federal government begins seeking bids to build it.

The Department of Homeland Security quietly identified this week three sites where the government will build the first phase of the wall: near El Paso, Tucson, Ariz., and El Centro, Calif. However, the construction will replace already existing fencing that is “no longer effective” while the agency assesses the entire 2,000 mile border.

On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a preliminary solicitation for bids “for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico.” It did not identify a specific location other than “to be determined.” The Request for Proposals will go out March 6 asking for concept papers. The final bids with pricing are due March 24.

“Multiple awards are contemplated by mid-April for this effort,” said the announcement. Estimates for the cost of building a wall from the Brownsville to San Diego have ranged from $15 billion to $25 billion.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

The idea of a border wall has been particularly incendiary in El Paso.

“That wall in itself is a racist reaction to a racist myth that does not reflect the reality of this country at all,” U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, said last month. On Friday, he held a lengthy town hall meeting and fielded questions about the wall and earlier this week toured McAllen, another border city.

O’Rourke told the American-Statesman Friday that the wall is “unnecessary and a waste of resources,” noting that El Paso is the safest city in America, according to FBI crime data.

With Mexican immigration in decline, he said, border crossers increasingly are Central Americans fleeing harsh conditions and gangs. “A wall’s not going to stop Central Americans from seeking shelter. … You can build a wall of kyrptonite 20 feet high and these kids are still going to be seeking refuge.”

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, whose district includes 800 miles of border, also opposes a border wall. He has said, “building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border.” He also has underscored the physical challenges to building a wall in rugged West Texas.

Hurd was traveling this week and unavailable for comment.

The three starting locations for the Trump administration’s wall were included in Department of Homeland Security documentation released Tuesday as part of Secretary John Kelly’s two memoranda to implement Trump’s sweeping immigration executive orders. However, they were little noticed because they were included in a Q and A page of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website.

The Trump Administration continues to grapple with how to pay for the wall, which the president has insisted will be on Mexico’s dime, and the Homeland Security memo said that officials will be identifying all federal aid to Mexico signaling a potential diversion of funding. The administration also has floated the idea of a 20 percent border tax on imported goods.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Donning red shoes to help nonprofit
Donning red shoes to help nonprofit

Guests of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Central Texas’ Red Shoe Luncheon raised $85,000 on Tuesday to support its programs. About 275 women, and a few men, donned red shoes from sandals to cowboy boots at the third annual event at Brazos Hall to support the nonprofit group, which provides compassionate care and resources to children and...
Austin ISD is banking on bond to boost enrollment, turn around schools
Austin ISD is banking on bond to boost enrollment, turn around schools

Natural lighting, movable furniture, state-of-the art technology, and open and collaborative learning spaces. That kind of learning environment is what Austin district leaders envision for their campuses of the future. The average Austin school building is 40 years old. Many of the classroom spaces still resemble industrial-era classrooms with their...
Answers to your questions about graffiti abatement in Austin

Austin’s Graffiti Park at Castle Hill is officially the city’s only open canvas for spray painters to express themselves. But when graffiti pops up in neighborhoods and on private property, it’s considered vandalism. Questions often arise about how to handle graffiti, so here are some of the answers we’ve found: What counts...
AISD LAND FOR SALE: Alamo Drafthouse eyes former school site for HQ
AISD LAND FOR SALE: Alamo Drafthouse eyes former school site for HQ

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is seeking to move its headquarters to the Baker Center, one of 40 bids and proposals for 10 of the Austin school district’s surplus properties that remain in negotiations. Baker, a former school built in 1911, had a minimum bid of $10.6 million. Alamo was among the six bidders, and one of three (including the city) that...
HAPPENING TODAY: UT stabbing suspect to appear in court
HAPPENING TODAY: UT stabbing suspect to appear in court

University of Texas stabbing suspect Kendrex White is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday afternoon to address matters in his murder case. Court documents do not give reason for the 1:30 p.m. hearing. A prosecutor who is working on the case declined comment Thursday. White, a 21-year-old biology student, is accused of killing 19-year-old Harrison...
More Stories