Society

Trump To Consider "Aesthetics" In Building Border Wall

| by Jordan Smith

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection is requesting additional information from companies that are interested in building the wall along the border with Mexico.

The wall is to be "nominally 30 feet tall" and bids will be evaluated based on "aesthetics," according to the March 9 CBP update, Pro Publica reports.

Such language is being seen as a reference to President Donald Trump's campaign pledge to build a "beautiful" wall between 30 and 55 feet high.

But some observers are concerned with the information being requested.

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"This isn't normal," Steven L. Schooner, a professor of government contracting at George Washington University, said. "This is shoot first, aim later."

Officials at CBP said they were "not in a position" to give an interview on the matter.

DHS has also asked companies to outline how they would go about constructing the wall along the 2,000-mile-long border.

"This strategy will need to accommodate the entire Southwest Border, which has a quite diverse range of terrain, foliage, population, wildlife, and other features," the initial government document released on Feb. 24 stated.

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The Trump administration is considering making cuts to the Coast Guard budget and the Transportation Security Authority to fund the wall, The Washington Post reports. Trump initially said Mexico would pay for the bill, which is estimated to reach $20 billion.

"The Budget prioritizes DHS law enforcement operations, proposes critical investments in front line border security and funds continued development of robust cybersecurity defenses," a draft budget proposal states. "The Budget aggressively implements the President’s commitment to construct a physical wall along the southern border."

The budget is expected to be sent to Congress later in March, and changes could still be made before then.

"Trying to draw conclusions this early would be extremely premature," White House spokesman Michael Short said on March 7.

Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, a Trump supporter, criticized the Office of Management and Budget, which was responsible for preparing the draft, for suggesting cuts to the Coast Guard.

"OMB has always treated the Coast Guard like a little piggy bank that they can go after whenever they need money for anything else," Hunter told the post. "If the president is serious about getting after the cartels and getting after drug networks, this makes no sense."

The funding plan for the wall has yet to be finalized. In its latest request for information, DHS asked interested companies to propose "models for financing, constructing and maintaining the wall," Pro Publica reports.

The government also requested the businesses inform them if their plans for building the wall would entail "major deviations from federal law or regulation."

Sources: Pro Publica, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Jetta Disco/U.S. Department of Homeland Security via Flickr

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