Prototypes for U.S.-Mexico Border Wall Could Be Coming Soon

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Trump's vision for the United States-Mexico border wall is still moving forward, despite funding questions. Prototypes for new sections of Trump's proposed wall should be ready by the end of summer, announced a Department of Homeland Security official.

The department will decide on the best design out of up to eight prototypes, said Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. The prototype phase will cost up to $20 million and Homeland Security plans to award construction contracts in the coming weeks.

This is a step forward for border wall enthusiasts, who might have felt disappointed in late April when Trump delayed seeking government funds for the wall. However, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney insisted that lack of direct spending on the wall does not hold up the project, but instead allows time to prepare roads in rural areas before construction begins.

Although the Pew Research Center reported that less than half of Americans view the United States-Mexico border wall as "important" among other immigration concerns, Trump has not indicated a rethink on his hardline border wall stance.

The prototypes for the new wall sections have the possibility to incorporate solar panels, an idea that has been making its rounds in op-eds. Trump claimed last week that taking advantage of the sun along the border region would mean the wall pays for itself, thus making Mexico pay less. Vitiello said that some of the prototypes will include solid concrete. He would not confirm if any would include renewable energy technology, although the department encouraged contractors to innovate.

The Center for Biological Diversity also sued Homeland Security for public records detailing what has been done to analyze the environmental impact of building the prototypes, which will be built along the San Diego border.

The specific area, near Otay Mountain Wilderness, is home to the world's largest stand of Tecate cypress trees, which are sensitive and occur only in this area, as well as several protected, threatened, and endangered species. These fauna include the Southern bald eagle, Quino checkerspot butterfly, and San Diego fairy shrimp. The lawsuit comes after the federal government failed to respond to public record requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, the center says.

Prototypes aside, the border wall itself is still unpopular with Democrats and some Republicans, with some calling it a waste of money. Wall funding will return to the negotiation table in September as Congress drafts the budget for the next fiscal year.