A new round of contracts has been awarded to build prototypes for a wall along the border with Mexico, the Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday.
Two of the companies selected, Caddell Construction Co. of Montgomery, Alabama, and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co. of Philadelphia, Mississippi, were also among firms awarded contracts last week to build concrete wall prototypes in the San Diego area.
The other companies chosen to build the wall prototypes are KWR Construction Inc. of Sierra Vista, Arizona, and ELTA North America Inc. of Annapolis Junction, Maryland.
The new wall prototypes will be 18-30 feet high and made of materials other than concrete, according to documents from Customs and Border Protection, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. The agency did not say what those materials include.
Officials said the prototypes, which will also be constructed in the San Diego area, are designed to deter illegal crossings.
The border wall was a key campaign issue for President Donald Trump, who said it would stop drugs and dangerous international gangs, although experts point out that most drugs are smuggled into the country through ports of entry, not over the border. Days after taking office, Trump issued an executive order instructing Customs and Border Protection to build a wall along large sections of the border.
The wall has proved to be a tough sell in Congress. Trump has asked lawmakers to allocate $1.6 billion this year toward building a wall along the roughly 1,900-mile border with Mexico. A mix of barriers — from chain-link fences and steel walls that keep people from crossing to steel beams that stop vehicles — already stretches across about 650 miles of the border.
Congress has provided $341 million this year to repair and bolster the existing barriers. The House Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill that included $1.6 billion for 74 miles of fencing along the border. The Senate has yet to act on the proposal.
Trump had threatened a government shutdown if the border wall was not included in the next spending bill. He later backtracked on the threat.
The Senate approved a measure Thursday to keep the government funded through December but did not include funding for the border wall. The House still has to vote on the bill.
The Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based environmental group, sued the Trump administration in April for failing to study the environmental impact of the proposed border wall. On Tuesday, the group amended its lawsuit to include the border-wall replacement and prototype projects.