Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded SLSCO, a construction company out of Galveston, Texas, a $167.5 million contract for border infrastructure design and construction, ramping up the construction company's existing activities on the border.
The construction will take place near Mission, Texas, on the U.S.-Mexico border, just west of McAllen, Texas, where many U.S. troops are deployed as part of the Trump Administration's effort to crack down on illegal border crossings in the area.
Building under the contract, which was announced Tuesday by the Department of Defense, is expected to run through May 2020 and falls under fiscal 2018 omnibus funding.
SLSCO was also recently awarded a $145 million contract by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers for six miles of border wall construction near McAllen, including 18-foot sections for levees, clearing vegetation out to 150 feet from the wall, and lighting and surveillance equipment. The U.S. Border Patrol says it apprehended 137,000 migrants attempting to illegally cross the border in the McAllen sector in 2017.
There are over 5,000 troops stationed on the U.S.-Mexican border operating in support of the Border Patrol with the laying of razor wire, setting up logistics dumps, helicopters and other support. The Pentagon has stated that the deployed personnel will play no direct role in the apprehension of migrants attempting to cross the border.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will be visiting soldiers and meeting with commanders in McAllen on Wednesday as part of a one-day domestic trip.
Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday that the Pentagon is still tabulating the potential costs of the deployment. Mattis also said that reports of a large migrant caravan shifting its course from the Texas border to Tijuana has not affected the mission.
President Trump has repeatedly pledged to reinforce the border with wall construction and crackdowns on illegal border crossings and smuggling. The recent military deployments are meant to bolster the roughly 20,000 active Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement personnel involved with border enforcement.