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DHS Won’t Confirm Trump’s Assertion That U.S.-Mexico Wall Design Is Underway

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A truck drives near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico, in January. A truck drives near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico, in January. AP Photo/Christian Torres

President Trump said Wednesday his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is “being designed right now.”

Those plans appear to be very closely held—so closely held the agency responsible for border security is possibly unaware of them.

When asked by Government Executive whether the design work has been bid out through contracting procedures or if it was being handled internally, a spokesperson for the Homeland Security Department referred questions to one of its components, Customs and Border Protection. Carlos Diaz, a CBP spokesman, said the agency had “nothing available to share.”

The spokesman declined to confirm Trump’s assertion that the design is already underway.

The administration could be in the opening stages of drafting a request for proposals from contractors, or perhaps plans are being kept under wraps, or maybe Trump spoke ahead of schedule. Whatever the case, the White House has made clear the president will stay directly involved in the planning and construction of the wall.

“On the wall, I mean, the president is a builder,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday. “He understands and I think he’s going to make sure that as this project moves forward, that he’s going to stay in close touch with [DHS] Secretary Kelly to make sure that it fits his specs.”

Spicer added Trump “pays enormous attention to detail, and he wants to make sure it gets done right. So I would expect that a project of this magnitude and one that is this high on his priority list will get the necessary attention from the president.”

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Eric Katz writes about federal agency operations and management. His deep coverage of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Postal Service has earned him frequent guest spots on national radio and television news programs. Eric joined Government Executive in the summer of 2012 and previously worked for The Financial Times. He is a graduate of The George Washington University.

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