President Donald Trump alienated many Hispanic voters by proposing to build a “great wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border. But despite losing the Hispanic vote 65 percent to 29 percent to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November, a surprising number of Hispanic business owners are now looking to cash in on the federal government’s attempt to construct the 1,300-mile, multibillion dollar border wall.
Mario Burgos owns the Albuquerque-based professional services firm, Burgos Group. He is just one of about 60 Hispanic business owners who are now bidding for contracts with the federal government as it seeks to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall. Burgos conducts business in seven states and employs around 120 people, according to CNN.
But Burgos isn’t the only Hispanic business owner looking to take advantage of the president’s proposal. About 600 private businesses have tossed their names into the hat, in hopes of landing one of the lucrative deals. Of the 600 companies, about 60 — or 10 percent — are Hispanic-owned.
“It’s not an anti-immigrant thing for me,” Burgos told CNN. “It’s about creating jobs. And honestly [it’s] like any other job.”
Patrick Balcazar is another Hispanic business owner looking to cash in on the wall his family and his employees adamantly oppose.
Balcazar runs San Diego Project Management, which is based in Puerto Rico. He said he thinks that building a wall between the two countries is a “terrible idea.” His wife and the majority of his employees agree with him.
Their political leanings aside, though, Balcazar is putting money at the forefront: “What I tell everybody, ‘work is work.’ “
Various kinds of companies that have so far submitted their bids for the massive southern border project, including construction firms, fencing companies and security firms. The Department of Homeland Security is expected to announce the recipients of initial contracts next month.
Trump told ABC News just five days after taking office in January that he wanted actual construction of the 1,300-mile barrier to get underway “in months.”
The wall would run from the Gulf of Mexico in Texas to the Pacific Ocean in southern California, with some gaps along the stretch where there are natural barriers such as mountains or rivers. As the San Jose Mercury News noted, some rough terrain areas of the border cannot support a wall.
The structure is estimated to cost as much $25 billion, according to some estimates, while Trump himself has said he can get it done for as low as $10 billion.