U.S. Mexico Border Fence “Made In China”
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- House members allied with the domestic steel industry blasted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday for building a fence on the Mexican border with Chinese steel.
- “By allowing the use of Chinese pipe [a type of steel], DHS is allowing the U.S. taxpayer to subsidize Chinese production at the expense of the American workers,” Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.) said at a press conference. “This is completely unacceptable.”
- “This is outrageous, it’s offensive and it’s unacceptable,” charged Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.).
- English displayed photos of a portion of the border fence from San Luis, Ariz., that shows pipes marked “China” holding the border fence in place. He said DHS’s Office of Congressional Affairs had indicated it had waived the so-called Buy American rules in order to use the Chinese pipe and tube. The rules normally require the use of U.S. steel in such projects.
- The Office of Public Affairs referred questions to Customs Border Protection, which did not respond by press time.
- GOP presidential hopeful Rep. Duncan Hunter (Calif.), who authored a bill signed into law last year mandating 850 miles of fence along the border, said DHS should have gone to U.S. producers to procure any necessary steel or pipe.
- “The Department of Homeland Security has, the last time I checked, $800 million cash on hand available to build the border fence. So they don’t have to go and get cut-rate deals to build the border fence,” Hunter said. U.S. pipe makers can “easily” supply the products necessary for the fence, Hunter insisted.
- The lawmakers said they did not know if there was a bidding process that led to the use of the Chinese goods. They also said they were unaware if any U.S. companies bid for contracts related to the fence but were turned down.
- Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) said he was concerned about the safety of Chinese steel. However, when pressed, he and other lawmakers could not cite any specific safety problems that might result from the use of foreign pipe in a fence. Visclosky did note other safety issues that have recently come up with toys from China, while English said the use of Chinese inputs in U.S. infrastructure prompts broader concerns.
- Members of the congressional steel caucus have invited DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to testify at an Oct. 31 hearing on possible safety issues regarding Chinese pipe.