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CBP seeking proposals for 'physically imposing' concrete wall on Mexico border

Late Friday night, officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection began accepting proposals to design and build prototypes for two walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, one a "physically imposing" wall of reinforced concrete. 

During his political campaign, President Donald Trump made the construction of a border wall one of primary campaign promises, including in September when he told a crowd of thousands in Phoenix that he would seek the construction of an "impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, and beautiful southern border wall." 

The wall would use "the best technology" along with sensors, towers, and surveillance to protect the new wall, and he insisted, despite Mexico's refusal, that Mexican authorities would "work with" the United States and pay for the wall, Trump promised. 

The proposals follow Thursday's budget request by the White House seeking $2.6 billion for the construction of a wall along the Southwestern border, which included $999 million for the "planning, design, and construction" of the first installment of the border wall. 

As part of the request for proposals, the government is seeking a wall of reinforced concrete that is "physically imposing in height." 

The proposal said the wall should be about 30 feet high, but added that it could be as low as 18 feet in some places. The current bollard-style fencing in Arizona rises to about 18 feet in many areas. 

"Offerers should consider this height, but designs with heights of at least 18 feet may be acceptable,” the proposal documents said. "Designs with heights of less than 18 feet are not acceptable."

"The government's nominal concept is a 30-foot high wall," the agency said. 

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It should be impossible for a person to climb to the top of the wall from either side without assistance, and the wall should include "anti-climb topping features that prevent scaling using common and more sophisticated climbing aids (e.g. grappling hooks, handholds, etc.)," the agency said. 

The wall should also prevent digging or tunneling beneath it for a minimum of 6-feet below the wall's lowest grade, and should be able to withstand an attack from hand-held tools, jackhammers, battery-operated cutting tools, and acetylene torches for at least an hour. 

The only nods to environmental concerns were a requirement that wall's north side be "aesthetically pleasing" in color and texture to blend in with the surrounding environment, and that the wall should be able to allow surface drainage. 

The wall must be able to climb slopes up to 45 degree grades, and should be "cost effective to construct, maintain and repair," the agency said. 

A second request for proposals seeks a similar design, except that the wall should be somehow see-through in a way that "facilitates situational awareness" for Border Patrol agents, but does not "negate" the requirements set by the concrete wall design. 

Winning contractors are required to design and construct a 10-foot by 10-foot mock-up in San Diego, Calif.

A spokesman for the agency said that the prototypes would "inform future design standards, which will likely evolve to meet" the requirements set by the Border Patrol.

"Any and all prototypes will be designed to deter illegal entry into the United States," said Carlos Diaz, a CBP spokesman.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

The border wall between the U.S. and Mexico just east of Nogales, Arizona.