AL DÍA News ^ | March 15, 2017 | Agencia EFE, Madrid
More than 60 Hispanic companies, all interested in constructing the controversial wall that US President Donald Trump wants to build on the Mexican border, are putting aside political and patriotic concerns for the chance to make money and create jobs.
"Honestly, for us it is above all an infrastructure project and a way to create jobs, something we really need in New Mexico," Mario Burgos of the Burgos Group construction company told EFE, adding that his state has an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, the country's highest.
Of Peruvian descent, Burgos said that if the family business takes part in a project that can award contracts worth $20 billion, that's not being anti-immigrant, it's just being practical.
Amadeo Saenz of the Texas firm J.D. Adams was of the same opinion. He said that though for the past eight years the company has been a cooperative owned by the employees, most of them Hispanic, when they decided to take part they didn't think about the "political aspects, just the economic ones."
This construction company based in Austin, Texas, which has laid highways and built bridges for a total of around $300 million in state and federal contracts, now sees the chance to take part in a giant infrastructure project.
The wall was one of the Trump's leading electoral promises and annoyed many in Mexico, which according to the president would have to pay for the entire construction as compensation for allowing criminals and rapists to come into the United States.
Saenz told EFE he understands the logistical difficulties of finishing a wall that already exists along some 354 miles of border in California, Arizona, New Mexico and part of Texas, in order to make it extend the entire 2,000 miles of border between Mexico and the US.
According to the US government, the wall, to be built in three stages, will be 30 feet (9 meters) high so no one can climb over it, must resist intentional damage, and will take at least 3 1/2 years to build, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which must also deal with purchasing and expropriating the land.
Ricardo Diaz of Halbert Construction, located in El Cajon near San Diego, California, said that his company has 38 employees with very different origins and opinions about Trump and the wall, but that does not stop them from being interested in the work.
"Someone has to do it, work is work and political affiliations don't matter," he said.
From the city of Luquillo, Puerto Rico, retired military engineer Patrick Balcazar told EFE that he is against the wall, and in his opinion it would be better to develop both sides of the border to stop the undocumented from emigrating.
But his company San Diego Project Management, with experience in design and development of large contracts, believes participation in the wall project would help alleviate the island's economic problems.
"There's no work in Puerto Rico, we're going through a depression and to keep up with my payroll I have to take advantage of whatever comes my way," he said.
Balcazar said that Puerto Rico could contribute cement and the ability of build prefabricated structures to be assembled on the construction site, though he admitted it will be "a fight between David and Goliath," because there are huge international companies also interested in the project.
In his opinion, it would be a paradox if the Mexican consortium Cemex, one of the leading producers of cement in the world and which has several plants in the United States, were to provide the material to build Trump's wall.