Mario Burgos certainly isn’t anti-immigrant. His father was born in Ecuador. His maternal grandparents immigrated from Europe.
But that won’t stop him from bidding on the proposed Mexican border wall.
“It’s not an anti-immigrant thing for me. It’s about creating jobs. And honestly [it”s] like any other job,” said Burgos.
Burgos is one of more than 60 Hispanic-owned businesses that have registered as vendors that are interested in bidding on the project — about 10% of the 600 or so companies that have done so.
Formal bidding has yet to start, but the Department of Homeland Security is expected to post details for bidders later this week.
President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall has sparked a lot of criticism about its cost, estimated to be at least $10 billion, as well as whether a wall is smart immigration policy. But the companies bidding on the 1,300-mile barrier aren’t concerned about policy.
Burgos’ business, Burgos Group, has grown from two employees to 120 in the last six years. The firm, based in Albuquerque does work across seven states, including federal contracts.
He said he doesn’t have a specific opinion whether the fence is a good or bad idea as a matter of immigration policy. But he believes any construction project that puts people to work is a good thing. His employees, some of whom are immigrants, feel the same way.
Another interested bidder, Patrick Balcazar, is far more opinionated about the wall.
“I think it’s a terrible idea,” he said. “I think dollars could be better spent elsewhere.” Balcazar is the owner of San Diego Project Management, and says he’s gotten pushback about his potential involvement with the wall from his wife, his employees and members of his community.
“What I tell everybody,” he said, “work is work.”
He adds that the decision as to whether to build the wall isn’t his — it’s up to policy makers.
“If you want a wall, I’ll design it and build it in a way that will meet the requirements,” he said.