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NEWS 3 SPECIAL REPORT: The Wall Between Us

One of the biggest hot button issues facing the nation is immigration - symbolized in many ways by President Trump's plan to build a wall on the U.S.- Mexican border.

An Alabama company is among those chosen to produce prototypes for it - and could ultimately win the contract - if Congress finds a way to pay for it.

Javier Reyna works as a security guard along the border in Mexico. Every day, he sees these prototypes for the proposed U.S. border wall.

"It makes me very angry. I don't like them. They should be removed. I've been deported, my family's over there and I'm here staring at that. I'd love to blow them up, the walls," Reyna said.

A recent Gallup poll reveals only 41-percent of Americans favor the wall's construction. But it's one campaign promise the president says he intends to keep.

"Republicans want strong borders and no crime, very simple. Democrats want open borders and crime, crime, crime happens automatically when you have those open borders,” said President Trump.

That's the debate that continues to rage in Washington. But how does it resonate with the grass roots?

 

For local perspective, we talked with the leaders of both Muscogee County's Republican and Democratic parties. 

"They're dealing with people,” said Saundra Ellison, Chairman of the Muscogee County Democratic Committee.  “I don't care where they come from. They're dealing with humans, and they need to be more considerate."

"I think the issue is immigration. Period. The wall, one solution, and there are others, said Alton Russell, Columbus-Muscogee County Republican Party Chairman.

Alton Russell says Republicans are pro-immigration---when the legal process is followed. When it's not, he says it jeopardizes our country's sovereignty.

"They talk about all the immigrants who came to America and built our country. See, that's a good point. And I agree with them. But those people came through the Golden Door,” said Russell.

Saundra Ellison says crime does concern Democrats.  When it comes to an actual wall, she questions if it will really have an impact and is it worth the cost both in taxpayer dollars and to the nation's reputation.

"The bigger problem is the drug trafficking coming in and out of the United States. I think that their laws on immigration/those laws that are there need to be enforced,” Ellison said.

Last summer, the government selected four southern companies to develop concrete prototypes for the wall. Earlier this spring, the President had the opportunity to see the prototypes on display in San Diego.

One of those companies is Caddell Construction in Montgomery.

News 3 wanted to speak with folks at Caddell to find out about the prototype and what feedback, if any, they were given the emotionally, politically charged nature of this topic. We repeatedly called them over the course of several weeks. So far, there's been no response from Caddell.

According to their website, big government construction projects are nothing new for Caddell.

Its portfolio includes the new US Embassy in Kenya and a new national nuclear security administration headquarters for the energy department.

The company calls itself "a premier general contractor with projects throughout the U.S. and in 37 countries on five continents.”

While Caddell won't talk about its blueprint for the wall, the CEO of Fisher Sand and Gravel in Tempe, Arizona, did share his company's plans in an interview with our Phoenix affiliate, KPHO.

"In the end, we're not just selling a wall. We're selling a complete border protection system,” said Fisher.

Fisher aims to make their wall as unobtrusive to the landscape as possible - using colored cement to blend with the environment.

“So, if you stood back half a mile, you couldn't even see where our wall is, because it blends so nicely,” Fisher said.

The Trump Administration is also examining non-concrete prototypes, too.

For Fisher and Caddell, all they can do now is wait on Washington to make a decision.

In terms of price tags, the estimated cost to build the border wall $21 billion dollars. That doesn't include maintenance.

So far, Congress has only approved a $1.6 billion dollar down payment.

The remainder of the money will have to wait at least until after the midterm Congressional election.

If Republicans hold on, the wall could still become a reality. If the Democrats win control - it will likely remain on the drawing board.

We'll keep you updated.


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