Posts tagged with "Border Wall":

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Cards Against Humanity buys land to block Trump’s border wall

It’s that time of year again. Cards Against Humanity (CAH), the slightly obscene Chicago-based card game makers, are running their winter “promotion.” With a penchant for deadpan pranks, the company has found a way of raising large amounts of money for seemingly useless or unwanted rewards. In the past, the company has raised the price of its eponymous game on Black Friday as an anti-sale, sold boxes of manure, and sold nothing for $5. In 2016, it dug a “Holiday Hole” with the help of customers's donations, which was literally just a hole in the ground. This year’s promotion is aiming a bit higher, though, as the company has purchased land along the U.S.–Mexico border in order to undermine President Trump’s border wall plan. Already sold out, CAH's promotion offered a set of six surprise gifts throughout December for a $15 donation to the campaign. The money raised will, presumably, go towards the efforts of the company to combat “injustice, lies, racism, the whole enchilada.” According to the campaign’s dedicated website, the border land has already been purchased, and a law firm specializing in eminent domain has been retained to make the process of building the border wall “as time-consuming and expensive as possible.” Not mincing words, the site reads, “It’s 2017, and the government is being run by a toilet.” Elaborating further, it says, “Donald Trump is a preposterous golem who is afraid of Mexicans. He is so afraid that he wants to build a twenty-billion-dollar wall that everyone knows will accomplish nothing.” Recently released documents show the Army Corps of Engineers’ assessment of the plan to build the wall in South Texas. The report outlines plans to place the wall through wildlife habitats and RV parks, and anticipates costly legal battles for privately-held land. If Cards Against Humanity has anything to say about it, those legal battles are going to be long and drawn out. As part of the proportion of the campaign, CAH produced a short mockumentary which takes place in the not-to-distant future, outlining its accomplishments in saving America.
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New border wall documents show path of destruction through Texas homes, wildlife preserves

Newly released records have cast light on the Army Corps of Engineers’ assessment of border wall plans in South Texas. Spanning 33 miles across the Rio Grande Valley, the 15 proposed walls would tear through wildlife habitats, RV parks and involve costly legal battles over the Trump administration’s efforts to acquire privately held land. The documents, obtained by the Texas Observer with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, have broken down the ease of building each segment into “least challenging," “challenging” and “most challenging.” Only seven of the proposed 21 sections are rated as “least challenging,” with challenges for the other tracts ranging from existing infrastructure to unequal terrain. “Nice RV park, many retirees live there permanently. Western half of segment will impacts upward of 100 homeowners,” reads a two-mile-long “most challenging” entry. Another notes that the wall will need to cut through a dam that holds back a nearby town’s reservoir of drinking water. Others comment on the proximity of housing along the wall’s route, leading to questions over how the federal government will try to reconcile building on private land when there are already 320 cases in the Rio Grande Valley pending from a similar 2007 expansion. This wouldn’t be the first time the Trump administration has tried to push through border wall construction in the area. The 2,088-acre Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in South Texas is one of the largest refuges in the country, but the federal government has already begun plans to bisect the park with a levee wall. Despite the backlash from the public and government officials, the government owns the refuge and work is moving forward. Labeled as a pilot project, the images released today depict a concrete based wall topped with 18-foot-tall steel bollards. Reportedly costing $15 million per mile, the Army Corps anticipates a completion date of July 2019. However, these new documents show that the levee wall isn’t Santa Ana’s only concern. The administration now wants to add a 150-foot-wide paved enforcement zone running south of the levee wall, complete with 120-foot surveillance towers, lights, and underground motion sensors. Scott Nicol is co-chair of the Sierra Club’s borderlands team, and put in the original FOIA request. “With this type of construction it would be difficult for Santa Ana to stay open,” said Nicol. The enforcement zone isn’t just limited to the refuge, according to the Army Corps’ analysis. Several entries comment on the difficulty of acquiring the land required for the zone, with one stating “Church and cemetery directly impacted by enforcement zone.” The release of this feasibility study closely follows the recent unveiling of eight border wall prototypes. Although funding for the border wall is still being fiercely contested, it seems the Trump administration is moving ahead in any way it can.
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Eight border wall prototypes are unveiled along the U.S.–Mexico border

Eight prototypes for President Donald Trump's border wall were unveiled this week on the U.S.-Mexico border, not far from Tijuana and San Diego. The prototypes stand up to 30 feet tall. Four are constructed from concrete while the remainder are each constructed of a different material, including corrugated steel and brick. The contractors who built the prototypes are Caddell Construction, ELTA North America, W.G. Yates & Sons, Fisher Sand & Gravel/DBA Fisher, Texas Sterling Construction, and KWR Construction. On Monday morning, a media tour of the prototypes was led by Roy Villareal, the deputy chief patrol agent of the U.S. Border Patrol's San Diego sector. Two of the designs feature a slatted base through which the other side can be seen. A rendering released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection showed that the more transparent wall designs are intended for the Mexican side of the border, with the concrete and solid wall types used on the northern, U.S. side of the border. Former border patrol agent Rowdy Adams told CNBC that visibility is also important in identifying potential crossers, "whether it's 10 people or 30 people with ... rifles." Additionally, environmentalists had raised concerns that a solid wall would impede the migration of small animals. Since Congress hasn't yet demonstrated any serious commitment to appropriating the nearly $21.6 billion required for the border wall, it is unlikely any of these prototypes will go into mass production in the near future. However, Villareal suggested that the border patrol might implement some of the designs to replace older, worn-down sections of the existing wall. Even if the wall were to gain full funding, it remains steeped in controversy. Several manufacturers have stated their refusal to supply materials for the wall's construction, including concrete suppliers Cemex and LafargeHolcim. Additionally, three of the six firms selected to build prototypes have previously defrauded the government or otherwise been steeped in controversy. Testing of the wall prototypes will occur in late November by a private contractor that border patrol agents declined to name. The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) is committed to regular, rigorous coverage of the border wall and the controversy that surrounds it. To that end, AN has partnered with El Paso, Texas–based AGENCY to bring readers Border Dispatches, “an on-the-ground perspective from the United States-Mexico border.” Each month, the series explores a critical site or person shaping the mutable binational territory between the two neighboring countries. For more news, opinion, and information on the border wall, visitarchpaper.com/tag/border-wall.  
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New photos show border wall prototypes under construction

On Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tweeted images of the border wall prototypes in California that showed a wall ideation well underway. CBP unveiled plans for the prototyping phase back in September. The new images, taken near the San Diego–Tijuana border, show construction cranes lifting 30-foot-tall concrete slabs. The panels are one of eight wall prototypes that are set to be built and tested. Though all will be between 18 and 30 feet high, four of the walls will be concrete and the rest will be built with other materials. The work reflects President Trump's campaign promise to build a wall on the boundary between the U.S and Mexico to, in CBP's word's, "deter illegal crossings." "We are committed to securing our borders, and that includes constructing border walls. Our multi-pronged strategy to ensure the safety and security of the American people includes barriers, infrastructure, technology and people," said Ronald Vitiello, CBP acting deputy commissioner, in a September press release that announced prototype construction. “Moving forward with the prototypes enables us to continue to incorporate all the tools necessary to secure our border." Last month it was revealed that three of the six firms selected to build the prototypes had previously defrauded the government. Despite the project's contentiousness, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported no protests yesterday. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) is committed to regular, rigorous coverage of the border wall and the controversy that surrounds it. To that end, AN has partnered with El Paso, Texas–based AGENCY to bring readers Border Dispatches, "an on-the-ground perspective from the United States-Mexico border." Each month, the series explores a critical site or person shaping the mutable binational territory between the two neighboring countries. For more news, opinion, and information on the border wall, visit archpaper.com/tag/border-wall.
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Half the companies contracted for border wall defrauded the government

U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently awarded contracts to six firms to build concrete and non-concrete prototypes of a U.S.-Mexico border wall promised by President Donald J. Trump. Just weeks later, reports revealed that two of the selected firms were convicted of defrauding the government and one firm countered a lawsuit by injured subcontractors with the argument that one of the workers was an undocumented immigrant. This spotty history spells trouble for a process that is already fraught with controversy and estimated to cost billions of dollars. Caddell Construction, a firm based in Montgomery, Alabama, was awarded contracts to build both concrete and non-concrete prototypes. The company settled a criminal case in 2013 with the Department of Justice in which they paid a total of about $3 million for submitting falsified reimbursement claims for mentoring a Native American-owned company on a construction project. This made them eligible for federal funds awarded through the mentor-protege program, which offers federal reimbursements for supporting minority-owned businesses. Fisher Industries, a firm based in Tempe, Arizona, was contracted to build concrete border wall prototypes. The company's history is marked by a constellation of environmental and workplace violations: failure to control dust pollution resulting in health concerns for workers, retaliation against the sexual harassment claims of female employees, and their presidents' ongoing habit of writing off personal expenses as business expenses (for which one executive was sent to prison for 37 months by the IRS; another got off scot free). Last but not least, their eponymous former owner David Fisher was locked away for five years in a 2005 child pornography case. A third bid winner that was selected to build both concrete and non-concrete wall prototypes, W.G. Yates & Sons Construction of Philadelphia, Mississippi, was the subject of scrutiny after the scaffolding on a hospital project collapsed on a group of workers. When the workers sued Yates for damages, Yates argued in court court was that one of the employed subcontractors was an undocumented immigrant and "therefore not lawfully employed." This is a chilling relegation of responsibility for workers safety, especially when applied to the construction of a massive border wall. Yates' workers compensation policy ultimately meant that the company was not held responsible.
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A transparent border wall? Trump administration picks 4 firms for prototypes

Five days after Donald J. Trump took the presidential oath of office, he signed an executive order ordering the construction of a massive border wall, intended to be the cornerstone of his anti-immigration policy as promised throughout his 2016 presidential campaign. Even before the order shifted from rhetoric to reality, architects have been responding to the question of whether they should participate in such a project and what such a massive piece of infrastructure could look like—including Mexican firm Estudio 3.14, which released renderings of a perplexingly aestheticized, Luis Barragán–inspired pink wall to much criticism in October. Now, nearly eight months later, some scattered logistics are falling into place. Last Thursday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection awarded contracts for non-concrete prototype walls to four firms at a sum of about $3.6 million, adding to the four firms already selected to build concrete prototypes. The firms are: Caddell Construction (of Montgomery, Alabama), KWR Construction (of Sierra Vista, Arizona), ELTA North America Inc. (of Annapolis Junction, Maryland), and W. G. Yates & Sons Construction Company (of Philadelphia, Mississippi). Caddell Construction and W. G. Yates were also picked in the previous round of contracts for concrete prototypes. This latest development seems to correlate with Trump's request earlier this summer that the wall be, of all things, transparent. His reasoning? “As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them—they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over,” Trump told reporters on July 13. “As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.” Sanho Tree, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, responded: “Over a 2,000 mile border, I think you’d have a higher chance of getting hit by a meteorite than a bag of drugs.” The Washington Post even took the accusation seriously, spoke to some experts, and discovered that a casual toss like the one Trump described would likely require a catapult or other medieval military device. While Trump the architect may lack a basic understanding of physical dynamics, Trump the politician seems to be unhesitant about carrying through on his promise to build the wall. We await to see how this transparency (or lack thereof) evolves.
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House Republicans: Fund border wall and new tunnel under the Hudson River

Congressional House Republicans released two separate spending bills detailing proposals that would impact the Gateway Project and the US-Mexico border wall, on Monday and Tuesday respectively. The House Appropriations Committee unveiled its $56.5 billion Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development bill that budgets $900 million to the Gateway Program, a project many consider critical to the nation's transportation infrastructure. The Committee's $44.3 billion Homeland Security bill allocates $1.6 billion to construct the border wall. In a win for the $24 billion Gateway Program, the spending bill includes $328 million for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor tracks, grants for rail repairs, and direct funding for new Hudson River rail tunnels and the Portal Bridge. (More details on the multifaceted program can be found here.) President Donald Trump’s administration had pulled out of the Gateway Program Development Corporation a week ago, casting doubt on the administration's support. According to Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Rodney Frelinghuysen, the Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston provides $3 billion to the U.S. economy, making the Gateway Program a priority. "Safe and reliable passenger rail travel through New Jersey and New York City is essential to that economic productivity," he said in a statement reported by NJ.com. But one of Trump’s key promises during his presidential campaign—building the much debated and controversial border wall separating the U.S and Mexico—is also one step closer to fruition. The $1.6 billion earmarked for the wall fully meets the White House request for construction funds, according to the committee. “Globalization, cyber-security, and terrorism are changing our way of life and we need to change with it," Frelinghuysen said in a press release. “The bill also provides the necessary funding for critical technology and physical barriers to secure our borders.” The $1.6 billion earmark is also likely to set up a government shutdown when the bill makes it way to the Senate, where Democrats are sure to object to any kind of wall funding. Funding for both projects is not yet guaranteed. Both bills will have to pass the full House and get approval from the Senate, before getting signed into law by President Trump.
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Inside the Border Patrol Academy’s New Mexico facility, where training and real operations can blur

This is the first in a series of reports from El Paso, Texas–based AGENCY, entitled Border Dispatches, an on-the-ground perspective from the United States-Mexico border. Each month, we will explore another “sleeper agent,” a critical site or actor reshaping the diffuse, overlapping binational territory we know as the borderlands.

Over the last decade, our changing national security priorities have contorted federal law-enforcement training sites to respond to new and sometimes contradictory demands. In Artesia, New Mexico, several replicas simulating different areas of the International Border Fence (IBF) are built on the site of the Border Patrol Academy (BPA). The “mock fences” are a minor but instructive example of the material residue created by our nation’s ongoing obsession with the promotion and maintenance of a physical international boundary, a hard line separating the U.S. from Mexico. A close reading of the fences, and the training installation of which they are a part, reveals volumes about the shifting whims of the securocratic territory they both describe and inhabit.

The BPA is on the site of the Artesia Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), one of four national training centers that serve 95 federal partner organizations as well as thousands of other local and international security forces. The site has specialized in providing unique training environments not available elsewhere, including drug and fingerprint labs, and all-terrain vehicle courses. After the 9/11 terror attacks, the site began hoarding grounded jetliners to train air marshals in counterterrorism operations. The site was a good fit for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), capable of supporting both its “priority mission” (counterterrorism) and “primary mission” (preventing illegal entry to the U.S.). The real physical environment of Artesia, and the otherwise-remote site’s particular coincidence with the logistical networks of the CBP, was recast as an invaluable training asset.

In 2004, The FLETC Artesia site was selected as the location for a newly reconsolidated BPA, due to its strategic location near a focus of CBP activity—near hot spots for the eventual assignment of academy graduates—as well as the region’s signature climate and terrain. Artesia lies just four hours from the Southwest border. While seemingly distant from border operations, it is strategically close enough. Many of the geological and ecological features of the site are shared with a large percentage of the territory agents are charged to protect. It is here that the agents rehearse known threats and prepare for new ones, the simulations scripting a generation of borderland encounters to come.

Upon arrival, trainees are issued a fake sidearm, to become accustomed to the relentless presence, bulk, and weight of the weapon. Classes are led by retired USBP agents, and use a technique called scenario-based training (SBT). Training takes place mostly in situ, informed by the simulated physical constructs throughout the site and the desert terrain itself. Simulated checkpoints, barns, and inspection areas for railcars and vehicles are scattered throughout the center to host scripted encounters. In addition to physical training, the center uses Spanish-speaking role players, playing a range of border-crosser types, from harmless asylum-seekers to armed smugglers. Classes are taught in high-risk Spanish terminology.

According to FLETC documents, in 2013 $1.2 million was dedicated to “add realistic fencing and check stations to enhance border patrol training venues” at Artesia. Since 2014, training exercises have included engagements with a “towering, steel” mock IBF that “realistically simulates the field environment.” Six different mock-IBF sites were planned that year, mimicking the various construction materials deployed in the constructed border throughout its length. Each mock fence was to measure 90 feet long, “and will vary in height from 19 feet to 10 feet,” according to the documents. “The materials will mirror what is used on the international border, to include bollard fencing, as well as fencing constructed from landing mat materials.” The staged constructions create backdrops for scenarios culled from the experience of actual agents in the field, including “when assailants are throwing rocks or other projectiles, or subjects are using vehicles as a weapon against the agents near the IBF.” Only four such mock IBFs are advertised as available for training on the FLETC website currently.

In recent years the Artesia FLETC has further blurred the boundary between real and imagined operations when its collection of novice trainees and academic exercises would play host to the endgame of the agency’s ultimate objective—migrant detention. While it appears a simulated detention facility was completed in 2010 for training purposes, a real-world detention center would soon emerge on-site. The training venue proved an expedient solution for federal law enforcement in 2014 when an influx of Central American migrants filled other nearby detention sites. A temporary detention center, holding as many as 672 detainees at one time, was built, conflating the space of border-patrol simulation with the reality of its impact. Ten acres of the site, including existing dorms and classrooms, were converted to serve as medical centers and processing centers, among other uses. Attorneys visiting the site noted the strange proximity of the training simulacra around the detainees’ temporary home. News reports show cribs for child detainees lining the interior hallways of the FLETC trainee barracks.

While residents of Artesia have often shown support for the training operations, and the positive economic impacts trainees bring to town, the reality of detention on-site proved to stress the relationship. Residents, in an echo of the paranoia surrounding the crossing of the IBF, expressed concern about the hastily constructed perimeter security at the facility, noting the ease with which the eight-foot chain-link fence might be crossed by a determined detainee. The temporary facility was closed at the end of 2014. The future of the site, and the blurring of the boundary between real and imagined conflict, remains uncertain. Asked in 2016 by the Roswell Daily News whether the FLETC would ever be used again as a detention site, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) reportedly answered that chances are “slim right now…but you never know.”

The current administration’s charge of building a border wall requires built mock-ups of the proposed designs in Otay Mesa near the Mexican border. In a way, the practice of sampling potential walls resonates with the sampling of border parts at the BPA, reinforcing a kind of thinking about the boundary as merely a collection of obstructive infrastructural parts devoid of the real-life consequences of blockage and armament. As the duties and performance criteria of the IBF expand to deter and collect more bodies, shifting tactics are indexed and foreshadowed in the space of training.

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Temporary congressional spending plan does not fund border wall

To those architects itching to build President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall: Maybe try again in September. According to preliminary reports, a forthcoming $1 trillion congressional budget deal to fund the continued operation of the federal government will strike a blow to several of the President’s key campaign promises, leaving controversial proposals like funding a border wall between the United States and Mexico, a long-touted $1 trillion infrastructure package, and the threatened de-funding of so-called “sanctuary cities” unfulfilled. Instead, the bill includes roughly $1.5 billion in new border security spending earmarked mostly for repairs and technological upgrades of existing elements, among other items. That amount is far less than the roughly $70 billion needed, according to a recent report by Democratic staff of the U.S. Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. The report, released last week in anticipation of this week’s contentious funding negotiations, is not kind to the wall effort and cites that the review process for proposals submitted in late March is already behind schedule. AZ Central reports that the estimated $70 billion would cover only the construction costs and does not include the cost of land acquisition along the border necessary in order to build the wall or the cost of maintenance for the structure once—really, if— it is built. The reported $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill is another short-term casualty of budgetary negotiations. The Hill reports that congressional leaders had originally planned to fund new infrastructure spending by imposing a reduced tax on companies that repatriate earnings currently held overseas back to the United States. The solution was thought to have bipartisan support, but those efforts seem to be falling apart: A recently-issued one-page tax reform outline presented by the President did not specify how the money would be spent and congressional Republicans fear Democratic support for the bill would falter due to grassroots political pressure aimed at stalling the President’s agenda. The forthcoming budget agreement, however, has maintained a certain amount of funding for mass transit initiatives in Democratic-leaning states, including $100 million of the requested $650 million needed to modernize and electrify California’s Caltrain network. The proposal also fulfills funding promises for two extensions of Los Angeles’s Purple Line subway extension, improvements for New York City’s L Train, and a new light rail extension in Denver, Colorado. Congressional leaders must pass their proposed spending bill by May 5th in order to avert a government shutdown. Budget negotiations will ramp back up again over the summer in advance of the start of the new fiscal year on September 6, 2017.
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Jorge “The Condo King” Pérez: Trump’s wall is “the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my life.”

This post is part of our years-long running Eavesdrop series (think page 6 for the architectural field). It’s your best source for gossip, insider stories, and more. Have an eavesdrop of your own? Send it to: eavesdrop[at]archpaper.com.

In a now-par-for-the-course Trumpian weaponization of identity politics, the president asked Related Group president Jorge “The Condo King” Pérez—of Argentinian descent—to help build the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The real estate tycoon, who is friends with Trump and has built a couple of buildings with him, said that he declined nicely and made a joke about which side he might end up on, according to Bloomberg. Pérez said later that “The wall is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my life.”

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Department of Homeland Security begins acquiring land for border wall in Texas

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun to amass land along the United States-Mexico border in Texas as the agency makes preparations for the yet to be funded border wall expansion ordered by President Trump. Texas Observer reports that landowners along the border have begun to receive “Declaration of Taking” notices offering cash payouts for land along the border. The DHS letters also threaten the use of eminent domain to take the land if landowners refuse to agree to sell—landowners would still be compensated for their land in the event DHS utilizes eminent domain to acquire the property. The move is potentially controversial because many of the areas that do not already host sections of the existing border wall lie along sensitive or inaccessible terrain. Texas Observer reports the story of local landowner Maria Flores in the community of Los Ebanos near the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande forms part of the border between the U.S. and Mexico and the lands abutting the river were—until recently—protected from any type of new construction due to fears that structures would increase the likelihood of damage to local communities were the river to flood. That changed in 2012 when the American-controlled contingent of the International Boundary and Water Commission that oversees the U.S.-Mexico border area agreed to allow DHS build the wall along the Rio Grande floodplain. See Texas Observer for full text of the Declaration of Taking letter. BREAKING: Department of Homeland Security seeking white papers for “complete physical barrier” with Mexico ADPSR is calling all designers to submit protest proposals for Trump’s border wall The Architecture Lobby calls to resist Trump’s border wall project These architects want to critically engage with Trump’s border wall
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These architects want to critically engage with Trump’s border wall

Architecture firm JuneJuly has encountered controversy after being mentioned in a recent Los Angeles Times article as one of the firms that has responded to the Department of Homeland Security’s pre-solicitation for the controversial wall along the US-Mexico border. Unlike some of the large, infrastructure-focused firms in the running for the project, JuneJuly is rather different. It is a small, young practice run by Jake Matatyaou and Kyle Hovenkotter who teach at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and Pratt Institute, respectively. Considering the deeply controversial and morally objectionable nature of the border wall project, the reaction on the internet—as one might expect—been mostly negative. There’s reason for that, of course. Despite what might be well-intentioned efforts on the part of thoughtful designers eager to engage with the wall, practical political realities dog the common argument that the border wall, as explained by another architect mentioned in the LA Times article, is “not political.” For immigrant communities and those who will live with the life-changing effects of the wall—should it be built—the ongoing, so-called critical engagement with the wall, whether academic, hypothetical, or earnest in its interest to affect positive change, has served up until now mainly to reify the wall’s existence as a symbol of xenophobic oppression. The wall project, as it is increasingly incorporated into the architectural discourse retains this loaded socio-political baggage. The question facing architects who seek to engage with the wall project is whether they can fundamentally alter this symbolic meaning.   The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) reached out to JuneJuly for comment regarding the firm’s interests and motivations for being a part of the border wall project, their responses are below. AN: The border wall is obviously very controversial, what are the benefits of getting proactively involved with something many in the architecture community would rather boycott? JuneJuly: It’s been a busy morning. We welcome the opportunity to clarify our position. In an ideal world, there would be no border and certainly no wall. But given our reality, we feel it is most productive to work within its constraints, so we begin with the reality of the wall as described in the pre-solicitation. Our involvement in the process opens a direct dialogue with those who are making decisions about the future of our southern border. We want the Department of Homeland Security to entertain our position and this process is a direct channel for our voice to be heard. Simply “walking away from our desks,” is not the right kind of agency to actively redirect what is happening along the border, nor does it allow us to be part of the conversation. Moreover, resistance as non-participation (which is sometimes necessary, but often not sufficient) maintains the status quo and the non-productive binary of an "us against them." JuneJuly thinks we are all in this together. We realize that the construction of any wall along our southern border will affect human lives on both sides of the partition. But the executive order, which is an immaterial wall, also has real consequences. Given our tools as architects, what can we, as practitioners do to redirect the conversation to a more humane and aesthetically aware border infrastructure, material and otherwise?

Do you believe it is possible to embed humanitarian considerations in a work of infrastructure defined fundamentally by separation and inequality? Yes. Not all walls are about separation and inequality. For example, the history of memorial architecture plays on the idea of the wall as a device of human connection, and not one of enclosure. It is our job as architects, as it always has been, to propose alternatives to what is considered fundamental to a design problem. What are some of the practical considerations you are contemplating for the wall? For example, the LA Times article references specific instances of human-scale contact, what do you envision happening along the wall's more remote or desolate locations? Architects have proven reluctant participants in discourses of border politics, having little, if anything, to say about the border as either a spatial condition or a cultural artifact. We believe that it is important for architects to engage the border as a specific architectural type as it is a physically experienced and collectively owned part of our design culture. Borders are a special kind of architecture that not only play an important role in how architectural effects are distributed geographically and politically, they literally manifest boundaries—both physical and virtual—in the form of edges, margins, zones, points, and lines, each regulated by rules of access and movement. Whether hard or soft, thick or thin, loud or mute, borders produce and negate various political imaginaries and subjectivities, both individual and collective. The stated objective of the U.S.-Mexico partition is to achieve operational control on the border through systematic surveillance and physical infrastructure designed to regulate the northern migration of goods and bodies. Our goal is to bring this border off-site, and to bring spectators at those sites to the border, transforming the partition into an interface for exchange, intimacy, and immediacy through the very tactics deployed in its policing. We depart from the premise that the border is its own architectural type, distinct from that of a wall or any other material construct. As such, we view it as a place of bodies and a space of flow. Ultimately, we want to dislocate the border from any claim to site specificity in order to emancipate the bodies it attempts to control. I would like to push against this notion that the wall is a foregone conclusion: The plans and money for the wall are not actually in place yet and there's also the issue that we already have many miles' worth of border wall in existence. The efficacy of non-engagement as a form of protest aside, what is the public benefit of utopianizing this type of infrastructure? In no way are we utopianizing border infrastructure. Nor do we say that the wall is a foregone conclusion. What is foregone is that the federal government is soliciting proposals for the southern border apparatus. We are responding in real time to the federal government as an active form of inquiry. There is clear public benefit in the engagement of established processes to achieve change and communicate ideas. We are not saying that counter-competitions, as described in your newspaper, are invalid forms of dialogue and protest. However, they should not come at the expense of direct engagement with official channels of power. To put it directly: We have never said that we are designing a wall. We are responding to the government’s solicitation for a new model of border infrastructure which we hope will provide a corrective to the privileging of iconicity, spectacle, and security at the border.