WASHINGTON, D.C.—Initial progress is being made in an effort to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.
President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Order 13767 on Wednesday, directing Customs and Border Patrol, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, to construct a physical wall along the controversial border.
The order does not specify the details of the wall including how and where it will be constructed, how it will be funded, or who will be building it. It does, however, represent an informal “kickoff” for the project, which was a key campaign promise he now wishes to make good on.
In a speech today at the White House, some new details emerged in the form of an invitation of bids to construct the wall. The invitation was directed at Chinese companies, angering critics who insist that the wall be built using American parts and labor.
During his campaign, Trump was widely criticized—particularly by his opponent, Hillary Clinton—for making use of Chinese-made steel in the construction of his trademark towers. While he has committed to using domestic steel in all public projects, he believes that an exception could be made in order to take advantage of unique foreign expertise.
“China has tremendous experience building walls,” Mr. Trump said. “They’ve been building them for 2500 years.”
President Trump, speaking from the press room, reiterated his commitment to using only American-made materials. However, he noted the parallels between the Qin Dynasty and the situation the U.S. is currently facing, and believes that the best result can be achieved by working together.
“China was having its own problems with illegal immigrants crossing its border, putting Chinese jobs at risk. Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who was a terrific leader, built a wall. And made the Xiongnu pay for it.”
Trump also praised the wall’s construction and engineering.
“The (Chinese wall) isn’t just made with steel,” President Trump said. “They’ve used stone, brick, wood, all the best materials. It’s very strong and very effective.”
China’s longest wall, colloquially referred to as the Great Wall, is over 4,000 miles long. Today, it is estimated that the cost to build it would exceed $350 billion. By comparison, the cost to construct the Southern U.S. wall is a meager but not insignificant $20 billion.
Unlike the Qin Dynasty, Trump does not have access to vast amounts of low-cost and free labor. Instead, he plans to pay for the wall with a 20% tariff on imported Mexican goods, something that Emperor Qin had not considered at the time.
It is unknown if any contractors from mainland China have yet submitted a bid. Following this formal invitation, such bids are a near certainty.