A U.S. Border Patrol agent drives near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Sunland Park, N.M. Credit: Russell Contreras/Associated Press

U.S. Customs and Border Protection plans to start accepting design proposals for a prototype wall along the U.S.-Mexico border early next month, rapidly advancing the Trump administration’s pledge to construct a more formidable barrier between the two countries, the agency announced today.

Speaking today at the Conservative Political Action Conference, President Donald Trump said plans to build the wall are “way ahead of schedule,” and building is “going to start soon.” That promise became more tangible with the posting on the federal contracting website FedBizOpps.gov. In it, the agency outlined a two-step process for bids, beginning March 6, with a solicitation “for the design and build of several prototype wall structures” in the area of the border.

Moving at breakneck speed, the agency wants design concept papers within four days – by March 10. After narrowing the pool of potential designs in 10 days, Customs and Border Protection then wants full proposals two weeks later, including a price. A decision could happen by mid-April, the announcement states, and might expand to multiple awards and an option for additional miles.

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More than 650 miles of various types of fencing already exist along the 2,000-mile-long southern U.S. border. A leaked internal Customs and Border Protection estimate pegged the potential cost for filling most of the gaps at $21.6 billion. So far, the Trump administration has said upgraded barriers will be built near El Paso, Texas; El Centro, California; and Tucson, Arizona, where current fencing is no longer effective, the Department of Homeland Security said this week.

The announcement about bids comes on the heels of twin memos released this week by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that outline how the administration will implement Trump’s executive orders on border security and immigration enforcement.

Click here for more on Trump’s proposed border wall.

Andrew Becker can be reached at abecker@revealnews.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ABeckerReveal.

 

Andrew Becker is a reporter for Reveal, covering border, national and homeland security issues, as well as weapons and gun trafficking. He has focused on waste, fraud and abuse – with stories ranging from border corruption to the expanding use of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, from the militarization of police to the intersection of politics and policy related to immigration, from terrorism to drug trafficking. Becker's reporting has appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Newsweek/The Daily Beast and on National Public Radio and PBS/FRONTLINE, among others. He received a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley. Becker is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.