Largest contract yet for US-Mexico border wall announced, worth $1.3 billion

A North Dakota construction company has been awarded a massive $1.3 billion contract to build a portion of President Trump’s signature wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota confirmed that the contract to build the 42-mile section of wall in Arizona was awarded to Fisher Sand and Gravel Co.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday that there was no set date to start or complete construction on the latest contract award. Construction will take place near Nogales and Sasabe, both in Arizona.

FILE: A Customs and Border Control agent patrolling on the US side of a razor-wire-covered border wall along the Mexico east of Nogales, Ariz. 

FILE: A Customs and Border Control agent patrolling on the US side of a razor-wire-covered border wall along the Mexico east of Nogales, Ariz.  (AP)

The Army Corps of Engineers, which awards contracts, said Fisher was one of several companies chosen in May 2019 to partake in building $5 billion worth of border wall. This month's contract to Fisher was part of that award.

When asked if there were any additional bidders for this latest contract, a spokesman said the agency couldn't provide that information because of "procurement sensitivities."

The Arizona Daily Star first reported news of the contract.

Trump has promised to build 450 miles of wall along the border with Mexico by the end of the year. So far, the government has awarded millions of dollars in contracts for the construction of 30-foot-tall barriers, along with new lighting, technology and infrastructure. The Trump administration says it has already built 187 miles of wall. Some of it is new but most is replacing old, much shorter barriers that officials said were not sufficient.

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Cramer said did not know if the Trump administration's recent move to waive federal contracting laws to speed construction of the wall helped the project or sped it up. He also said he didn't know if the project fell under those rules.

In the 2018 election cycle, company owner Tommy Fisher and his wife donated $10,800 to Cramer, who championed the company's ability to build the wall and made Fisher his guest at Trump's 2018 State of the Union address.

Democratic members of Congress raised concerns in December 2019 after Fisher was awarded a $400 million contract for border wall construction. Within two weeks, the Defense Department Inspector General had launched an investigation, which is ongoing, according to Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who has questioned whether or not the contract was properly awarded.

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"If the administration cared about anything besides political optics and maximizing miles of fence in the run-up to an election, they wouldn't have awarded this contract," Thompson said in a statement Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.