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Homeland Security seeking border wall proposals

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WASHINGTON — Have an idea on how to build the border wall? The Department of Homeland Security wants to hear from you.

Customs and Border Protection gave notice Friday that it will soon collect proposals to design and build “prototype wall structures” near the US-Mexico border, setting a mid-April timeline for awarding contracts.

The pre-solicitation notice comes as President Donald Trump once again pledged to build a border wall in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, saying the barrier was “way, way, way ahead of schedule,” although the President offered no further details.

In the notice, CBP says it will issue a formal solicitation sometime around March 6 “for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico.”

Vendors will be asked to submit concepts by March 10, and then a select group will be invited to provide full proposals by late March, with the prospect of receiving awards by mid-April. Contracts may come with an “option for additional miles,” the notice said.

President Trump has never backed away from his campaign promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico, though he has lately softened his pledge to make Mexico pay for it, at least right away.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, meanwhile, has said under questioning from border lawmakers who oppose walling off the entire border that the department might start by expanding fencing in certain areas, backed up by technology and personnel.

Kelly has also told Congress that border agents want a barrier they can see through so they can tell what’s happening on the other side, implying they prefer a fence.

Still, the government appears to be moving ahead with efforts to build a wall despite uncertainty about how much Congress might be willing to spend on it, and when they might do so.

Friday’s solicitation follows a similar notice from the Army Corps of Engineers which called for designs that include pedestrian and vehicle “border fences” as well as “automated border barrier gates.”

CBP spokesman Daniel Hetlage confirmed that its solicitation deals with border security plans. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on the posting.

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