Department of Homeland Security officials are close to wrapping up the testing and evaluation phase for the eight border wall prototypes that were constructed in San Diego, Calif., two senior DHS officials confirmed Friday.
"The testing portion has been completed. Right now, the results of the information gathered in that test period are being looked at by engineers, Border Patrol, and many others, so we can look at what features of those designs are the best to do the job," a Customs and Border Protection spokesman told the Washington Examiner.
The process started Nov. 26, and CBP, a DHS agency, estimated it would take 30 to 60 days, or some time around the end of January.
Six companies were tasked in September with building eight prototypes. Caddell Construction Company, Fisher Sand & Gravel Company, Texas Sterling Construction Company, and W.G. Yates and Sons Construction Company built solid concrete walls, while Caddell, Yates, KWR Construction, Inc., and ELTA North America Inc. built prototypes using "alternate materials border wall prototypes."
Contrary to some media reports that the government will pick one or two prototypes, CBP stated Friday that it plans to take elements from each prototype and then create a whole new barrier from what it learned through the testing and evaluation process.
The prototypes are being considered based on their ability to prevent people from climbing them, breaching them, or digging under them. They are also being studied for how they are able to deter or block traffic and how agents are able to operate around them.
"One of the things that is powerful, when you see the actual height compared to other designs," the CBP spokesman said about the 30-foot models. "You have the other secondary wall that is 12 to 18 feet. People don't realize how tall they are."
The pathway forward for building hundreds, if not thousands, of miles of the Southwest border wall will depend on whether Congress funds the project.
DHS has begun adding to the barrier at the Rio Grande Valley in Texas where illegal immigration apprehensions were high in fiscal 2017, but the department cannot move on the $20 billion project without substantial funding from Washington, creating another hold-up for the Trump administration.