A $789 million contract was awarded to the Texas-based company SLSCO Ltd. for the construction of border wall in Santa Teresa, New Mexico which is located in the El Paso sector of the border.
A second $187 million contract was awarded to the Montana-based Barnard Construction Company for work in Yuma, Arizona.
DOD spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Davis told CNN that the El Paso construction will include “30-foot bollard fencing and a five-foot anti-climb plate,” and Arizona project will include “18-foot bollard fencing and a five-foot anti-climb plate.”
Last month, the Army Corps of Engineers said that the plan was to construct 46 miles of fencing in Texas and 11 miles in Arizona. According to CNN, the Department of Homeland Security has also asked the DOD for help replacing vehicle barriers with pedestrian fencing and installing lights.
It’s likely that building will begin by late May, if DHS issues environmental waivers that would speed up construction. The Pentagon says these projects should be done by October 2020.
This money is not the $3.6 billion in military construction funds that Trump has tried to secure through declaring a national emergency (though the Pentagon used the “emergency” to justify the transfer). These are just regular Pentagon funds repurposed for border security. Trump has said previously that the administration plans to use an additional $1.5 billion from the DOD for more construction in the future.
Research has shown that fencing and other impediments to border crossing drives migrants into more dangerous routes, which leads to more deaths on the border. This is, in fact a Border Patrol strategy that’s existed since the ‘90s, known as Prevention Through Deterrence. The number of migrants who die every year attempting to cross the border is unknown—many of their bodies are eaten by scavengers and destroyed by the elements before they’re found. Border Patrol estimated that 294 died trying to cross in 2017, but the real number is likely much higher.