McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Two construction contracts valued at nearly half a billion dollars have been awarded to build 40 new miles of border wall in the South Texas city of Laredo, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced Wednesday.
A $201 million contract for a 13-mile section of border wall to be built in Laredo was awarded to Southwest Valley Constructors Company, CBP and U.S. Army Corps of Engineer officials said.
The other contract, worth $283 million for a 27-mile long stretch of a new border wall and the accompanying infrastructure system, was awarded to Fisher Sand & Gravel Company. Construction is scheduled to begin a year from now, in September 2021, “pending availability of real estate.”
However, the Laredo No Border Wall Coalition, a grassroots group of community activists who oppose the border wall, said they have hundreds of private property owners who have joined their organization who will no allow their property to be bisected by a 30-foot-tall border wall.
“This has nothing to do with security. This is about politics and greed,” said Tricia Cortez, executive director of the Rio Grande International Study Center, and co-founder of the Laredo No Border Wall Coalition. “These contractors know the end may be coming and the wall may never be built, so they hope to go on a spending spree to get as much of our taxpayer money as they can before their time runs out.”
The Trump administration is on an “all out push to rapidly build more border wall miles before the Nov. 3 presidential election and is building two miles per day — nearly doubling the rate of construction from the start of the year, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Protests against accelerated border wall construction have caused fights to erupt in southwestern Arizona between U.S. Border Patrol officials and members of indigenous tribes who are fighting to stop the 30-foot-tall rusted steel bollard structure from going up on what they call call ancient tribal lands in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
“After four years of slow progress, the administration is racing to rush last minute construction. With only one month left, the wall remains a central piece of the administration’s electoral campaign, despite the lack of studies and evidence to prove that a wall is a national security solution, as per the Department of Homeland Security’s own Inspector General,” the Laredo No Border Wall Coalition said in a statement.
A July report by the Inspector General of DHS found the agency failed to earmark new, less-expensive and more efficient ways to stop illegal border crossings, and called the building of border walls “outdated.”
This is the second border wall contract in the Laredo area awarded to Fisher Sand & Gravel, which is run by CEO Tommy Fisher. The company’s first area contract was announced in August to build 17 border miles through downtown Laredo, and was valued at $289 million.
Fisher also built a controversial 3-mile-long private border wall in South Texas and is the subject of multiple lawsuits against the structure.
Fisher’s company currently is building a 42-mile-long section of border wall in southwestern Arizona on the border with Mexico on lands that are sacred to the Tohono O’odham tribe. Fisher Sand & Gravel received the largest border wall contract to date in May, to build in that area, valued at $1.3 billion.
On Sunday, he was featured on 60 Minutes in a story that suggested he has received billions of dollars in border wall contracts because of his friendly relationship with President Donald Trump.
Wednesday’s announcement makes a total of 71 riverfront border wall miles to be built, valued at a total $1.05 billion, “a staggering cost,” coalition members say.
“The wall cuts us off from the river that has been part of our 265 year history. To me, that river is our Statue of Liberty. They might as well be putting her in jail,” said Valentin Ruiz, a coalition member and U.S. Army veteran.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com.