Posts tagged with "Border Wall":

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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.
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ADPSR is calling all designers to submit protest proposals for Trump’s border wall

In the wake of the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) request for proposals for a U.S./Mexico border wall, design advocacy group Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) says it doesn't accept the project and has issued a call for architects, designers, and contractors to "add their voices in opposition."

In doing so, the ADPSR has called for those within the industry to submit protest bids to the federal bidding portal, and gear up for legal challenges to the bidding process. Protests will be published online to demonstrate that the profession, in its view, does "not accept the basic premises" of the CBP's RFP. Adding submissions to the federal portal will place your protest on the record, the group said.

The ADPSR issued the following statement in conjunction with their call to action:

Our professions are committed to protecting public health, safety, and welfare, so we are fundamentally at odds with any project that intends to divide, demean, and injure people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

This project will undermine peaceful international relations between the U.S. and Mexico, and demonstrate a profound mistrust and aversion towards the rest of the world. Professional design practice and human relations are increasingly global. As decent national and world citizens, American designers and contractors must not participate in an ill-conceived and hostile gesture towards the rest of the world.

We must also take stock of the frequent deaths of would-be migrants in the deserts of the border area. This proposed wall, by making the border even more inaccessible, will increase the number of deaths: an outcome that is completely unacceptable and flies in the face of professional ethics and human rights. Designers can not ethically undertake projects that will kill people or cause harm.

This project is completely unnecessary and hugely wasteful.  We must not be scared by the rhetoric of a “lawless” border; in fact, through many successful projects such as Land Ports of Entry, designers and builders have made the U.S. border more welcoming, efficient, and well-controlled. The idea that people from Mexico and Central America crossing remote borders on foot pose a significant public safety threat or are stealing jobs is not supported by evidence.. Participation in the border wall project indicates acceptance of a worldview that smacks of ignorance and racism.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates the wall will cost $21.6 billion dollars. Instead, the billions of dollars proposed here should be used to sustain the infrastructure truly essential to public health, safety, and welfare that has been neglected for far too long. From public schools and community parks to dangerously unreinforced dams and bridges, or addressing the pressing concerns of climate change on coastal cities, or the housing crisis sweeping much of our nation, this funding should be used to connect our communities, not divide them...

We will do not collaborate with hate, racism, fear, or/and violence. We demand investment for the public good!

For those who need help submitting a protest border wall, the ADPSR invites interested parties to send proposals to be submitted via the organization. Files should be .PDF documents and addressed to: borderwall (at) adpsr (dot) org. The group asks to be CC'd on all submissions.

The ADPSR also offers some advice on submissions:

Take time to review the insanely short proposed schedule and identify how this might obstruct a realistic bid that you as a designer might want to submit. Consider submitting a bid to hold a place for this future protest. Review the forthcoming RFP for inaccuracies, biased statements, or anti-competitive features and share these with us at borderwall (at) adpsr (dot) org. We will do our best to raise legal challenges as the process proceeds.

Submissions to the federal bidding portal are due March 31.

UPDATES: AIA pledges to work with Donald Trump, membership recoils. UPDATE: Robert Ivy issues second apology for tone-deaf post-election memo UPDATE: Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of the AIA, responds to post-election memo criticism.
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BREAKING: Department of Homeland Security seeking white papers for “complete physical barrier” with Mexico

The United States Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL) has issued a new Request for Information (RFI) pertaining to the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. The RFI is different from the earlier Presolicitation Noticed issued last week by DHS, which has already garnered responses from hundreds of interested parties. The PIL is housed within the office of the Chief Procurement Officer at DHS and this new order seeks to “to solicit ideas from industry and other partners for the more comprehensive long-term strategy related to the border wall.” The call also asks for firms, nonprofits, and other interested parties to submit white papers in pursuit of "innovative ideas to design, finance and complete construction" of a "complete physical barrier" between the United States and Mexico.  See below for the full RFI text:
This Request for Information (RFI) is being issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) under the auspices of the Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL). The information requested under this RFI is separate and distinct from Presolicitation Notice 2017-JC-RT-0001, which was posted by the DHS Customs and Border Protection (DHS CBP) Procurement Directorate, and any Request for Proposals (RFP) flowing therefrom. That presolicitation notice, any amendments, and the anticipated RFP will, of course, be authoritative with respect to themselves, notwithstanding anything in this RFI. Thematically and conceptually, the RFP anticipated to follow the CBP presolicitation notice is designed to focus on a very near term effort. Some of those designs could become prototypes that will, in turn, advise the development of requirements for the actual wall. The details of the RFP are still under development, but it could include provision for construction of an initial segment of the wall. The procurement of the complete, extensive wall will come sometime later. Interested parties should note that participation in Presolicitation Notice 2017-JC-RT-0001 and any related procurement does not preclude offerors from participating in this RFI, and participation in this RFI does not preclude offerors from participating in Presolicitation Notice 2017-JC-RT-0001. The purpose of this RFI is to solicit ideas from industry and other partners for the more comprehensive long-term strategy related to the border wall. There are many other considerations for completion of the border wall. DHS recognizes that industry, other agencies, and other private entities may have interesting and useful ideas about how we could proceed. We would like to invite submissions of any such ideas so we can consider them as we develop a complete and comprehensive long-term strategy. This strategy will need to accommodate the entire Southwest Border, which has a quite diverse range of terrain, foliage, population, wildlife, and other features. Exemplar areas of the Southwest Border where we might initiate more extensive construction could include the Rio Grande Valley in the southeast of Texas, the area in and around El Paso, the desert along the Arizona border, and the area south of San Diego, California.
To that end, and pursuant to FAR Parts 10 and 15.201, DHS seeks white papers from companies, not for profits, educational institutions, consortia, and other entities with innovative ideas to design, finance and complete construction of physical infrastructure, known as the "wall" on the Southwest land Border of the United States to aid the Border Patrol in detecting and preventing illegal border crossings. The infrastructure will provide a complete physical barrier along the Southwest land Border. DHS is interested in ideas including, but not limited to: • Models for financing, constructing and maintaining the wall. • Multi or dual use functions for the wall and/or wall corridor. • Tools and methods to determine the best type of wall for each section of the Southwest Border. This would include the ability to tradeoff security capability, acquisition, life cycle cost, useful life and other factors. • Technology that could be incorporated into the wall that would contribute to border security and agent safety including but not limited to, sensors, cameras, access roads, brush removal. • Proposed business/contract terms and conditions that would optimize risk avoidance for DHS and its business partners in providing strong security quickly, efficiently, and effectively. This would include, but is not limited to whether this endeavor should be a contract or grant, partnership or financial assistance program; necessary length of an agreement, benefits of one partner vs. many different partners on various areas of the border and major deviations from federal law or regulation necessary to make this innovation possible. • How to bring economic benefit and jobs to the regions (states, counties, cities, individuals) cooperating with DHS on the wall project. White papers should be no longer than five (5) pages. If known, the papers should identify the largest obstacles to accomplishing the idea and proposed methods of overcoming the obstacles. Alternatives within a proposed model are encouraged. DHS may set up meetings (in person or telephonic) with respondents whose white papers, in the opinion of DHS, have merit and value in further discussion. A response to this market research is not required to participate in future acquisitions. Similarly, DHS's decision not to continue communications regarding a white paper does not prohibit that respondent from participating in future acquisitions for this program. Nonproprietary responses are preferred but DHS will also consider responses marked in total or in part proprietary. Please note however, that DHS does not consider these responses unsolicited proposals nor does it intend to award a sole source contract from the responses to this market research notice. Therefore, nonproprietary responses are of the most value to DHS as it proceeds forward with the wall. This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a Request for Proposal or as an obligation on the part of the Government to acquire any services or hardware. Your response to this RFI will be treated as information only. No entitlement to payment of direct or indirect costs or charges by the Government will arise as a result of contractor submission of responses to this announcement or Government use of such information. No funds have been authorized, appropriated, or received for this effort. DHS may use the responses to inform its development of future border infrastructure requirements. Interested parties are responsible for adequately marking proprietary or competition sensitive information contained in their response. The U.S. Government is not obligated to notify respondents of the results of this survey. The purpose of this RFI is solely to conduct market research. Classified information should not be submitted nor will it be accepted. The Government will not return any materials submitted. The requested information should be provided to: Wall_Innovations@hq.dhs.gov Responses are requested by March 31, 2017.
More information can be found on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
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Department of Homeland Security to accept bids for US-Mexico border wall

For architects still eager to “stand ready” with President Donald Trump’s pledge to build new works of infrastructure, here’s your chance: The United States Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection office has issued a preliminary “solicitation” for proposals to build the president’s controversial border wall between the United States and Mexico. The solicitation, posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website on February 24th, states the following:
The Dept. of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends on issuing a solicitation in electronic format on or about March 6, 2017 for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico. The procurement will be conducted in two phases, the first requiring vendors to submit a concept paper of their prototype(s) by March 10, 2017, which will result in the evaluation and down select of offerors by March 20, 2017.  The second phase will require the down select of phase 1 offerors to submit proposals in response to the full RFP by March 24, 2017, which will include price. Multiple awards are contemplated by mid-April for this effort. An option for additional miles may be included in each contract award.
The solicitation was issued the same day the president, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Congress’s (CPAC) annual forum, mentioned that progress on the wall was, “way, way, way ahead of schedule” and just two weeks after the administration began a heavy-handed crackdown on undocumented immigrants in the country. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump fueled his candidacy with strikingly anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric, promising to forcibly deport the roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants who currently live in the country. It seems now that President Trump, having botched the rollout of the administration’s travel ban against seven predominantly Muslim countries, is turning his attention to immigrants in this country to fulfill those campaign promises. The new focus will surely reinvigorate debate within the architectural profession regarding individuals’ and organizations’ kowtowing embrace of these so-called infrastructural projects. Following the travel ban hullabaloo, the American Institute of Architects issued a statement in support of immigration and international travel. The organization remains silent, however, on the issue of the proposed border wall and on the various other building-related issues the administration is currently pursuing, like increased use of private prisons for federal detentions, including deportation actions. Media reports have indicated that the private prison industry is looking to profit handsomely from recently relaxed regulations against such facilities under the new Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Their use is set to expand vastly under a directive issued that instructs the CBP to expand its detention capabilities from a capacity of roughly 34,000 detainees today to upwards of 80,000 detainees in the near future. Monetary costs for the border wall vary widely, from between $12 to $15 billion according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The CBP recently issued an internal memo pegging the wall’s cost at closer to $21.5-billion. Whatever the cost, the lack of leadership and activism on the part of professional building trade organizations is palpable. UPDATES: AIA pledges to work with Donald Trump, membership recoils. UPDATE: Robert Ivy issues second apology for tone-deaf post-election memo UPDATE: Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of the AIA, responds to post-election memo criticism.