The deadline for contractors wishing to bid on construction of the Trump administration’s proposed wall along the along the U.S.-Mexico border – originally scheduled for this week -- was extended until next Tuesday. Some of those in the running include companies owned and operated by Hispanic Americans or immigrants.
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On Tuesday, Senate Republicans signaled funding for the wall would likely not be included in the spending bill that Congress will vote to approve next month in order to prevent a government shutdown, and instead will be considered at a later date. That’s a new snag for the administration, and the more than 600 companies that have already submitted designs for the wall, 10% of which are considered “Hispanic American owned,” according to the Guardian.
Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga, CEO of the Texas-based Penna Group, put in a bid to design and construct the border wall. However, the decision wasn’t an easy one for Evangelista-Ysasaga, the descendant of Mexican immigrants, who told FOX Business his company also employs many workers of Hispanic descent. He said he was motivated to submit a “humane” design when he became aware of some less civilized, even “lethal,” proposals.
“It is our hope that once we secure our borders, we can have a national conversation about immigration reform. After 35 years of worsening immigration problems … it’s become clear that the American people and our politicians will not pass any new laws regarding immigration reform without first enforcing the laws on the books, including securing our borders,” Evangelista-Ysasaga said.
Mario Burgos, president and CEO of the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Burgos Group, put in a bid to provide general and electrical contracting services for the project, despite being the son of an Ecuadorian immigrant.
“I value the contributions immigrants, like my father, grandparents and other members of our family have made and continue to make to this country,” Burgos told FOX Business.
To Burgos, immigration policy and border security should be considered as two completely separate issues.
“I think it is unfortunate that the political rhetoric – particularly during the campaign – has resulted in border security and immigration policy being discussed as though they are synonymous. They are not one and the same. I am not aware of a country in the world that does not want to control its borders. Immigration policy is a completely separate issue,” Burgos said.
Over the weekend, the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico condemned Mexicans who wish to help build Trump's planned border wall as “immoral.”
"Any company intending to invest in the wall of the fanatic Trump would be immoral, but above all, its shareholders and owners should be considered traitors to the homeland," the country’s largest Archdiocese wrote in its weekly editorial.
One Puerto Rico-based company that put in a bid for the assignment, San Diego Project Management, is certainly feeling societal pressure, experiencing “blowback [from] many directions.”
“I do get calls from people from the mainland, begging me to desist and they end up calling me names,” the company’s managing partner Patrick Balcazar told FOX Business.
While Balcazar, whose firm is listed as one of the Hispanic companies involved according to The Guardian, said some detractors are against the proposed wall because they believe it is “racially motivated,” not all of the feedback has been negative.
“In Puerto Rico, I am surprised how many people approve of me participating … They recognize it for what it is, work. I am a businessman, and I do not make policy, everyone (except my wife) agrees with my effort to bring more work to Puerto Rico which is undergoing an economic crisis,” Balcazar said.
According to preliminary guidelines released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the agency wants the wall to be between 18 feet to 30 feet tall and appear “aesthetically pleasing” when viewed from the U.S. It also needs to extend six feet underground to prevent tunneling, and should be unclimbable, the agency said.
A new CBP briefing on the wall shows the fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint will ask for about $2.6 billion to construct less than 75 miles worth of the wall, according to a press release from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee. At that rate the wall would end up costing $66.9 billion in total. Earlier estimates from the Department of Homeland Security valued the project at $21.6 billion for 1,250 miles.