Saturday, March 2, 2024

First border wall contract under Trump begins construction

The federal government began work on Wednesday to replace a section of border wall in California, this represents the first wall contract awarded in the Trump administration.

Customs and Border Protection is replacing a little more than two miles in downtown Calexico, a sliver of the president’s plan for a “big, beautiful wall” with Mexico. The barrier built in the 1990s from recycled metal scraps and landing mat will be replaced with bollard-style posts that are 30 feet high, significantly taller than existing walls.

The administration is seeking $18 billion to extend the wall. In its efforts to obtain that money, the administration decided to include it as part of a broader immigration package that would grant legal status to DREAMers, however this failed in the Senate last week.

In November, SWF Constructors of Omaha, Neb., won a contract for $18 million to replace the wall in Calexico. The project which is expected to take 300 days, includes a bridge over an area bisected by the New River, where smugglers are known to guide people through polluted waters.

The administration cleared the way for construction in September by waiving dozens of environmental and other reviews in Calexico. A 2005 law exempted it from environmental reviews if the Homeland Security secretary deems a wall to be in national security interests.

The Trump administration also has issued waivers to build in San Diego and Santa Teresa, N.M. The state of California and major environmental advocacy groups have sued the administration over the waivers, saying its authority expired and U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, is expected to rule soon on whether to allow the border wall lawsuit to go forward.