Mex­i­can o∞cial: U.S. pay­ing for wall

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY MARIA SACCHETTI maria.sacchetti@wash­post.com

As the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ad­vanced plans to erect a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar wall on the south­ern bor­der, the leader of Mex­ico’s na­tional gover­nors as­so­ci­a­tion said Satur­day in Washington that Pres­i­dent Trump’s bud­get pro­posal proves that U.S. tax­pay­ers will foot the bill.

Trump has in­sisted that he will force Mex­ico to pay for the wall, but Mex­i­can of­fi­cials have re­fused. The pres­i­dent’s bud­get re­quest Thurs­day in­cluded $2.6 bil­lion, mostly for first stages of the wall.

“Trump is ask­ing the Amer­i­cans to pay for the wall,” Gov. Graco Ramírez of the Mex­i­can state of More­los said in a news con­fer­ence. “The first vic­tory is ours.” Ramírez, who is pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Con­fer­ence of Gover­nors of Mex­ico, was in Washington for a meet­ing at the In­ter-Amer­i­can Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights.

Ramírez spoke hours af­ter U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion opened bid­ding for con­tracts to craft pro­to­types of the wall, a step to­ward ful­fill­ing a cam­paign promise Trump made to build a “big, beau­ti­ful, pow­er­ful wall” to keep out il­le­gal im­mi­grants and drug smug­glers.

The two re­quests for pro­pos­als of­fer a first glimpse at the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s vi­sion for the bor­der, which already has hun­dreds of miles of fenc­ing. One re­quest calls for pro­to­types of re­in­forced concrete, while the sec­ond is open-ended, and could in­clude durable see-through ma­te­rial.

Both pro­to­types call for a 30foot-high-wall, though 18 feet may be ac­cept­able, and one that is “aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing in color” — at least from the U.S. side.

Omit­ted from the re­quests is the word “im­pen­e­tra­ble” — a qual­ity Trump vowed the wall would have. But the re­quests for pro­pos­als seemed to ac­knowl­edge that might not be pos­si­ble.

In­stead, the re­quests say the pro­to­types must be able to with­stand “for a min­i­mum of 1 hour” ef­forts to breach it by punch­ing, us­ing a sledge­ham­mer, or a “car jack, pick axe, chisel, bat­tery op­er­ated im­pact tools, bat­tery op­er­ated cut­ting tools, Oxy/acety­lene torch or other sim­i­lar hand­held tools.” The re­quests also say the wall must have anti-climb­ing de­vices and mech­a­nisms to pre­vent tun­nel­ing un­der it to a depth of six feet.

“It shall not be pos­si­ble for a hu­man to climb to the top of the wall or ac­cess the top of the wall from ei­ther side unas­sisted (e.g. via the use of a lad­der, etc.),” the re­quests for pro­pos­als said.

The dead­line for sub­mit­ting pro­pos­als is March 29 and a fed­eral of­fi­cial said the first con­tracts will be is­sued this sum­mer. Soon af­ter­ward, the com­pa­nies will build the pro­to­types in San Diego, where they will be tested.

The re­quests say the wall should be cost-ef­fec­tive to build and re­pair.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment Satur­day on the cost es­ti­mate for the wall, but the num­bers have ranged from $12 bil­lion to $21 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press.

Ramírez, the gov­er­nor from Mex­ico, said he was con­fi­dent that Repub­li­cans and Democrats in Congress would de­feat Trump’s bud­get.

“There are Repub­li­cans and Democrats who aren’t go­ing to ap­prove of that,” he said. “We have well-founded hopes.”

EDGARD GAR­RIDO/REUTERS

A wall sep­a­rat­ing Ti­juana, Mex­ico, and Cal­i­for­nia. The bid­ding process has be­gun for pro­to­types for an ex­pan­sive bor­der wall.

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