Contractors on both sides of border are taking heat – including death threats – for expressing an interest in bidding on Trump’s border wall project.
An owner of a small business in Mexico who has expressed interest in being a contractor for the U.S.-Mexico border wall is facing mixed reactions to his decision.
Ted Atalla, a U.S. citizen and Trump supporter who lives in Mexico, runs a small company that sells LED lighting. His is the lone Mexican business to have officially signed up to contend for work on the project.
“Honestly, all hell broke loose,” Atalla told The Washington Times about what happened when his intentions were made public. “We have become a political object overnight. We have had nonstop calls and interviews and criticism from here calling us traitors, but slowly people are commenting favorably about us here and there.”
More than 600 companies have expressed interest in helping build the border wall. Tuesday is the deadline for initial proposals for prototypes.
Atalla was hoping his company would be selected as a lighting contractor, working on the Mexican side, but doubts he will get the work due to President Trump’s “buy American” motto. Even so, he wanted to submit a bid.
Atalla said that it wasn’t his intent to cause a political furor, but he has done so simply by registering his company’s name. Despite the blowback, Atalla said that he voted for Trump, campaigned for him in Mexico in 2016 and is “100 percent behind our president.”
“I believe that the border wall will be a great thing for both countries,” he said.
Across the border, contractor Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga, chief executive and owner of the Penna Group, a firm based in Fort Worth, is another of the bidders hoping to land work on the wall project.
Evangelista-Ysasaga is Hispanic, as are most of his employees. He told The Washington Post, “A lot of people are saying, ‘You’re Latino. How can you build a wall to keep other Latinos out?’ We had to do a lot of soul-searching before we jumped into this because it’s obviously a very, very controversial topic.”
Evangelista-Ysasaga said his business has received numerous phone calls from “random people calling into the office and just screaming.” They have gotten five death threats this week alone. He told callers that every sovereign nation has a duty to defend its borders. Even so, he said, a “certain segment” of American Latinos call supporters of the border wall “racist.”
Despite the threats, Evangelista-Ysasaga asserts that his employees are ready to “be a productive part of the solution and propose a humane option to secure our border.”
The Penna Group has spent the past four years in the field constructing a border road and gathering data on what type of wall would be most effective.
“We’ve picked a very hot-button project to be involved in but at the end of the day, it is our hope that once we secure our border, we can finally pass comprehensive immigration reform,” Evangelista-Ysasaga added.
According to MSNBC, 10 percent of contract bidders on the border wall project are owned by Hispanics.
H/T: The Washington Times
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