Michael Evangelista Ysasaga is proud of his Latino and West Texas upbringing. He especially treasures his memories with his grandfather.
"My time with him was always spent in the mechanic shop with the tools,” said Ysasaga. “He'd show me how to change oil and do all these really cool things."
These moments inspired the Houston lawyer to launch his own construction company, The Penna Group, a US Military and Government contractor.
"I like the ability to step back and say, you know, I built that,” he said.
But what he's bidding to build now is the border wall. The White House is in the middle of taking bids.
Ysasaga said he understands this is a hot-button issue.
“A lot of people are very angry about it,” he said. “And naturally so."
Ysasaga’s own grandparents came to this country undocumented.
Yet, he said the wall, meant to separate, will lead to understanding.
"It is our hope that once we secure our borders – which is the right and duty of every nation,” said Ysasaga. “I think at that point, we will be able to have a rational, productive conversation about comprehensive immigration reform."
He also said whether he submits his bid or not, the wall will get built.
"Unfortunately, a lot of Latino contractors have decided to sit this one out,” said Ysasaga. “I think that's a mistake because I think it's our duty … to be a voice at the table for a rational and sane solution, rather than allowing the conversation to be monopolized by other firms who don't really care about immigrants.”
The business owner said within the federal contracting community, there have been rumors of lethal and inhumane border wall options – such electrical fences, or razor barbed wire “that you see in maximum security prisons.”
So Ysasaga is hoping for a common-sense solution.
"You have to be compassionate first, and then your compassion what guides your judgment,” he said.
As for details of the wall he has submitted bids for, his will be about 30 feet tall and will protect against underground tunnels, tampering, climbing and be aesthetic.
All with the preliminary price tag of about $21.4 billion.
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