Trump’s “big, beautiful” wall with Mexico takes shape


The US Customs and Border Protection agency has posted guidelines for people to make proposals for building the wall across the US-Mexico border, the “big, beautiful” magical wall that is going to stop all drugs, crime, and terrorist attacks in the US and make America great again, so that it is well worth gutting programs like providing meals to shut-in seniors to pay for it.

The agency provided 11 threshold requirements for the wall, which it says “shall be physically imposing in height.” The wall needs to be 30 feet tall — although “heights of at least 18 feet may be acceptable” — and it should prevent tunneling by going at least 6 feet below ground

The wall, it adds, should be difficult for getting over and offer features that prevent “sophisticated climbing aids,” such as grappling hooks and building handholds.

Prototypes will also need to prove that they aren’t susceptible to a “physical breach” via a “sledgehammer, car jack, pick axe, chisel, battery operated impact tools, battery operating cutting tools, Oxy/acetylene torch or other similar hand-held tools,” the CBP document says.

Potential contractors also need to keep an eye toward style, as the north side of the wall, or U.S.-facing side, “shall be aesthetically pleasing in color, anti-climb texture, etc., to be consistent with general surrounding environment.” There are no specifications for the Mexico-facing side of the wall.

The proposals also require that using the above listed tools, the wall should require a minimum of one hour to make a hole one foot in diameter. Requiring a minimum of one hour to break through does not seem like much of a delay that will deter determined people. I am not sure why Trump expects those who seek to make holes in it to only use tools that you can buy at a local hardware store. It seems like with the easy availability of dynamite, rocket propelled grenades, and even heavier weaponry, it should be easy to blast much bigger hole in far less time, seconds even, since drug smugglers are not likely to pay attention to CBP rules. I can well imagine that making holes in the wall becomes some kind of game. And I doubt that the Mexican authorities are going to be particularly vigilant about monitoring their side of the border.

The proposal request also requires that the side facing the US “shall be aesthetically pleasing in color, anti-climb texture, etc., to be consistent with general surrounding environment.” That seems wrong. The city commission that approves fences in our community requires the person putting up a fence to have the aesthetically pleasing side facing the neighbor’s yard. Mexico might demand that since the US is putting up the wall, the nice side should be facing them. Does the World Trade Organization that adjudicates disputes between nations deal with zoning issues?

Now that we have some details, expect the cost estimates to come in.

The government has not said where the wall will be built, though the contract notices suggest some pieces of a new wall could replace existing fencing that stretches over about 700 miles of the roughly 2,000-mile border. The current fencing of mixed construction, including 15-foot steel posts set inches apart that are designed to keep people from crossing and shorter posts that are intended to block cars. Border Patrol agents are constantly repairing holes in the structure.

This week the president sent a budget proposal to Congress that included a $2.6 billion down payment for the wall. The total cost for the project is unclear, but the Government Accountability Office estimates it would cost about $6.5 million a mile for fence to keep pedestrians from crossing the border and about $1.8 million a mile for a vehicle barrier.

Congressional Republicans have said Trump’s wall would cost between $12 billion and $15 billion and Trump has suggested $12 billion.

An internal report prepared for Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly estimated the cost of building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border at about $21 billion, according to a U.S. government official who is involved in border issues.

I expect the final cost to be well over the $21 billion estimate, though probably less than the $2 trillion that Stephen Colbert’s panel of architects, engineers, concrete suppliers, and designers estimated. They also present some of the problems that the builders will encounter. And Mexico is not going to pay for it.

Comments

  1. Richard Simons says

    What provision is to be made for drainage where it crosses gullies? I understand that even the existing fence causes problems with flooding.

  2. Dunc says

    I find it interesting that they’re specifying an “anti-climb texture” for the U.S. side, but not for the Mexican side. Are they trying to keep people out, or keep them in?

  3. KG says

    I am not sure why Trump expects those who seek to make holes in it to only use tools that you can buy at a local hardware store. It seems like with the easy availability of dynamite, rocket propelled grenades, and even heavier weaponry, it should be easy to blast much bigger hole in far less time, seconds even

    Well look – those seeking to enter the USA illegally via the Mexican border may well be drug smugglers, robbers, rapists, murderers and terrorists, but they’re surely not going to be unsporting about it!

  4. says

    It seems like with the easy availability of dynamite, rocket propelled grenades, and even heavier weaponry, it should be easy to blast much bigger hole in far less time, seconds even, since drug smugglers are not likely to pay attention to CBP rules. I can well imagine that making holes in the wall becomes some kind of game.

    Those would be insurgency operations – anyone willing to use RPGs or heavy weaponry would probably just use it on CBP first then walk across the border over their corpses. Which, by the way, is a practical potential CBP remains utterly unprepared-for.

    When the “make holes in the wall” game starts, I am looking forward to seeing what happens. For one thing, anyone who owns a backhoe or a bulldozer anywhere near the wall, is going to have to secure it very well. Ironically, of course, one of the things the wall-builders will need is: backhoes and bulldozers – exactly the things that destroy walls.

    Buy your thermite ingredients now, and sit on them for a few years; they’ll be tracking that stuff pretty soon. (yes, you can get everything you need on Ebay)

  5. blf says

    The people who know how to use tools more effective than hand-cranked drills are already present, imported by Obama and stashed in the national parks, awaiting the FEMA signal to overrun Area 51 and then attack with the commandeered Black Helicopters.

  6. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    @Dunc #2: Of course it is built to keep the illegal immigrants in. The US economy is currently close to full employment. If the immigrant slaves fled away, the economy would collapse.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 4: Buy your thermite ingredients now, and sit on them for a few years; they’ll be tracking that stuff pretty soon.

    Rather odd advice from someone warning us about the NSA Retroscope!

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    Mexico might demand that since the US is putting up the wall, the nice side should be facing them.

    I expect – should this damn thing ever get built – that we will see* magnificent murals all over the southern side, very quickly.

    * And by “see” I mean “see photos on Affinity and other Resistance art blogs”, except for the handful among us who leave permanently or have the resources and networks to access the tunnels & boats to get back in again.

  9. jrkrideau says

    it should prevent tunneling by going at least 6 feet below ground
    This must be a joke. If someone builds a 30 foot (above ground) wall the foundation should probably be 10 or 15 feet or more deep to begin with. Otherwise the first high wind and your vertical fence becomes a horizontal hiking/cycling path. Perhaps I misunderstand and they mean between some kind of fence posts?

    I just googled Gaza tunnels and the wiki that popped up mentioned that some of their tunnels went down to 30m and run/ran up to 800m. And these engineers/tunnelers are people working with little or nothing in terms of construction resources.

    I am sure most readers remember Joaquín Guzmán Loera who left his prison cell via a kilometre-long tunnel equipped with its very own railway.

    It might be worth while for people smugglers and drug smugglers to start thinking about hard hats and miners’ lamps. Properly equipped miners with good engineering backup working in decent ground conditions probably could drive a few tunnels in no time.

    Install some decent tiles, some lighting and a railway and it would be like catching the subway to work.

  10. Mano Singham says

    jkrideau,

    The engineer in the Colbert clip said that the posts should extend below the ground to about 2/3 the height of the wall, so a 30 ft wall should have posts that go down 20 ft. That roughly agrees with your calculation. But I don’t know if that means the entire wall should be 20 feet below or just the posts.

  11. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#7:
    Rather odd advice from someone warning us about the NSA Retroscope!

    If you blow down a chunk of the wall, you will get caught. It’s just a matter of time.
    I was referring to the inevitability that purchasing certain things will soon be considered cause for a warrant and people with guns to show up at your door asking about your father’s ancestry. They probably won’t retro-scope past purchases, but they might. Mostly, I think they’ll be flagging things for the future.

  12. jrkrideau says

    @ 11 Mano
    In the Colbert clip I’m pretty sure the engineer or whatever was referring to just posts but I watched that several days ago.

    Still, if it is solid it’s going to be a 1000km long sail in some parts. Trump and his advisors need to check out the Chinese approach. Now that wall is solid. Did work all that well in the end but it is solid.

    On a more serious note, a wall like that is going to be an ecological/environmental disaster. Wait, Scott Pruitt will save you!

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