- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

President Trump could have a direct role in picking the winner of the eight border wall prototypes currently being built and tested by Homeland Security, a department spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

While Mr. Trump was prohibited by contracting law from being involved in the selection of the eight finalists, he could be involved in picking the final best designs — though it’s not year clear what role he will play, said David Lapan, the spokesman.

The president last month said he would be deeply involved.

“I’m going to go out and look at them personally, I’m going to pick the right one,” he said at a political rally in Alabama.

Mr. Trump said he remains deeply committed to the wall, and said he was trying to combat reports that suggested he didn’t really want the barrier, which he campaigned on heavily in 2015 and 2016.

Eight wall prototypes — four concrete and four non-concrete — are being constructed in San Diego. Four of them are already done and four are under construction now, with completion expected by the end of October.

After a 30-day wait period for the concrete to cure, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will test the walls to see how easy they are to surmount or to breach.

Officials have said the prototypes are meant to inform their ongoing wall-building, suggesting that it’s possible there wouldn’t be a single winner, but rather lessons learned from the exercise.

The White House included wall construction on its 70-point list of immigration enforcement priorities it wants to see included in the ongoing debate over how to handle young adult illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”

Mr. Lapan said current plans don’t envision a sea-to-sea wall, but rather an “incremental” approach that involves CBP asking Congress each year for money to build barriers in the places that have the most need.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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