The bids for the border wall may be in, but there’s deeper trouble brewing with President Donald Trump’s signature project — and it all has to do with the possibility of violence.
According to The Associated Press, several bidders on the project expressed concerns that they might be the targets of violence during the construction of the wall.
Bidding ended on Tuesday, and officials said they expected four to 10 bidders to be selected for the second phase, which involved building prototype walls near San Diego. The prototypes were expected to run between $200,000 and $500,000.
One bidder asked if local authorities were prepared to rush in and defend contractors against “hostile attacks,” while another asked whether employees could carry firearms even in states with strict gun control laws.
That contractor also asked if the government would protect employees from legal liability if they had to use deadly force.
The threat of violence has apparently loomed large in contractors’ minds. According to CNN, only three of the country’s top 20 contracting firms were listed as having an interest in becoming a vendor on the border wall.
While political repercussions are no doubt part of this — state lawmakers in California and New York were both considering bills that would blacklist any company that builds the wall from receiving state contracts — the possibility of attacks was certainly there, too. And it appeared that even activists couldn’t guarantee that their protests won’t turn violent.
“There will be a lot of different activity — protests, prayer vigils — on both sides of the wall,” said Enrique Morones, executive director of Border Angels, an activist group that favors open borders. “We pray and hope that they’re peaceful.”
Thankfully, the federal government will be doing a bit more than hoping and praying. Both local law enforcement and the Border Patrol will set up buffer zones around the construction site to protect workers if necessary, one official told the AP.
And that just might be necessary. According to the AP, law enforcement in the California city and surrounding county “said Monday they will respect constitutional rights to free speech and assembly for any peaceful, law-abiding protesters.” The story did not, as far as we can glean, say anything about whether they would be equally committed to protecting those who worked on the wall.
A telling omission, and one that shows just how fraught the political climate in this country has become.
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