The Pentagon says it has awarded almost $1 billion in contracts to two companies to construct a wall on the US southern border with the construction set to end in October 2020.
This marks the first such contracts to be awarded since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on February 15 to bypass congressional approval and secure funding for the construction of his controversial wall along the US-Mexico border.
The Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $789 million contract to the company SLSCO Ltd., from Galveston, Texas, for "border replacement wall construction" in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, according to a notice released on the Pentagon's website on Tuesday.
Barnard Construction Co. Inc., of Bozeman, Montana, was also awarded a contract worth $187 million for "design-bid-build construction project for primary pedestrian wall replacement" in Yuma, Arizona, the notice reads.
Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers, predicted that by "around December of 2020, the total amount of money that we will have put in the ground in the last couple of years will be about 450 miles. That's probably about $8 billion, in total about 33 different projects."
Building the wall was one of Trump’s most frequently repeated campaign promises.
He vowed to crack down on illegal immigration in part by building the wall on the border with Mexico.
But bore than three years into his term, the US president has failed to fulfill that promise.
Congress refusal to provide the president with the $5.7 billion he needs to build the wall resulted in the longest government shutdown in the US.
On January 25, the president signed legislation to temporarily end the 35-day partial government shutdown, dropping his previous insistence on immediate funding for construction of the barrier.