- Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
- President Donald Trump visited the prototypes for the US-Mexico border wall on Tuesday.
- He made a few key statements that could signal what design characteristics he prefers – and only two of the prototypes fulfill all of those characteristics.
- The Trump administration has not secured funding for the wall, however.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump visited the eight prototypes for the US-Mexico border wall near San Diego, California.
On the trip, Trump emphasized that the wall needs to be difficult to climb, and described some immigrants as “professional mountain climbers.” He also made some key statements that may hint at which wall designs he favors.
First, he noted his preference for a see-through wall, and then specified two materials: concrete and steel. (In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in January, Trump also explained that the wall needs to be transparent, because he “wants to see.”)
“We’re looking very much at the wall with some see-through capability on the other side, and then solid concrete on top – or steel and concrete on top,” Trump said on Tuesday.
Completed late last year, the eight prototypes can be split into two categories of materials: four prototypes feature concrete, and four are made of other materials. In total, four appear to be somewhat transparent, while just two offer a clear view of the other side.
However, only two prototypes are both see-through and include either a solid concrete or metal panel on top: one by KWR Construction Inc. and one by Caddell Construction Co.
The first – designed by Sierra Vista, Arizona-based KWR and pictured below – is the most expensive prototype with a contract of $486,411:
- Reuters/Mike Blake
Metal columns at the base would allow Border Patrol agents to see the other side. Metal plates and a round pipe also sit at the top – a feature Trump complimented on his visit.
“The round piece that you see up here … the larger it is, the better it is, because it’s harder to get over the top,” he said.
But Caddell’s $320,000 prototype is the cheapest one of the bunch:
- Reuters/Mike Blake
Caddell, a firm based in Montgomery, Alabama, incorporated metal poles at the bottom, metal plates in the middle, and concrete blocks at the top for the prototype pictured above.
It’s unclear whether Trump meant to show preference toward these two designs. As CNN notes, favoritism could hamper the procurement process, and spawn legal challenges by the companies that aren’t chosen.
As BI’s Michelle Mark previously reported, Customs and Border Protection officials would likely not pick just one prototype, but use components of multiple designs to create different walls throughout the border (depending on the location and terrain).
Once the US Customs and Border Protection fully evaluates each prototype, the agency will present its findings to Trump. The Trump administration still hasn’t secured funding from Congress for the estimated $21.6 billion wall, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has repeatedly said that his country will never pay for it.