U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials announced the construction start of eight miles of a new border wall barrier system in the nation’s busiest sector. The construction project covers eight miles of the Rio Grande border where no barrier currently exists.
CBP officials partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began the installation of new bollard wall sections in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector. The RGV Sector is the nation’s busiest in terms of illegal border crossings along with cocaine and marijuana seizures, according to information obtained by CBP officials. Most of the illegal activity in this sector occurs in areas along the Rio Grande where no barrier infrastructure exists.
“The new border wall system will improve the RGV Sector’s ability to impede and deny illegal border crossings and the drug and human smuggling activities of transnational criminal organizations,” CBP officials stated.
RGV Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodolfo Karisch added, “Having previously worked in Tucson Sector, I’ve seen how walls are extremely effective in changing the operational environment in which we work. Locations where physical barriers have been constructed saw reduced illegal immigration flows, organized smuggling, and environmental degradation.”
Officials report the new border wall system consists of approximately eight miles of a new levee wall system. The new wall is being constructed where there is currently no physical barrier to preclude illegal border crossings and drug smuggling, officials stated. Once completed, the new barrier will also provide an all-weather road to provide rapid response to border crossing detections and surveillance technology to increase situational awareness. The project is similar to those already completed in the San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, and El Paso Sectors.
Officials approved a contract for the construction of this project in November 2018, Breitbart Texas reported. Many other border wall construction projects are approved and underway.
During Fiscal Year 2019, which ended on September 30, Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agents apprehended nearly 340,000 migrants who illegally crossed the border from Mexico into Texas, according to the 2019 Southwest Border Migration Report. This represents approximately 40 percent of all migrant apprehensions in the nine southwest Border Patrol sectors. Of those, 211,631 were migrants families and 34,523 were unaccompanied minors. Migrant family apprehensions increased by 234 percent in FY19 while the apprehension of unaccompanied minors increased by 45 percent.
“Since January 2017, approximately $9.8 billion has been identified to construct approximately 509 miles of new border wall system through a combination of Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense funding and the Treasury Forfeiture Fund,” CBP officials stated. “This includes approximately 110 miles of new levee and border wall system within USBP’s RGV Sector in areas where no barriers currently exist.”
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.
Trending Now on We Build the Wall News
DHS issues environmental waivers for 65 miles of border wall in South Texas
McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Environmentalists and local leaders in South Texas were furious after learning Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security has waived environmental regulations in three counties in order to expedite construction of 65 new border wall.
DHS on Thursday announced that it had issued a waiver to hasten new border wall construction in the counties of Hidalgo, Starr and Cameron. The waiver was published in the Federal Registry on Thursday, and “will ensure expeditious construction of approximately 65 miles of new border wall system within U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) Rio Grande Valley Sector,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release.
“President Trump continues to blatantly misappropriate government funds, ignore the pleas of Texas landowners and seize land like a medieval feudal lord,” U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat whose district includes Hidalgo County, said in a news release.
Scott Nicol, who is on the executive committee of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club told Border Report that “waiving laws is a clear admission that Trump’s border wall will violate those laws.”
The waivers will allow construction to begin despite environmental regulations that protect endangered species, and laws pertaining to the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Nicol, who also is co-chairman of the Borderlands committee, added: “There is no reason to waive the Safe Drinking Water Act unless their plans will threaten our drinking water. They are waiving the Endangered Species Act because they know that border walls will push endangered species closer to extinction.”
Jonathan Salinas of the No Border Wall coalition called the waivers “a hit-list,” to South Texas.
“Today’s waivers are but another reminder that in the name of national security all things are possible, including wholesale disregard for the human and environmental rights of border residents. These waivers virtually cover the whole of the Lower Río Grande Valley not yet waived, including wildlife refuge tracts which are intended to protect and preserve that which the government is now intending to destroy,” said Salinas, who also serves on the executive committee of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club.
Some areas will be exempt from border wall construction in South Texas, including: Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, La Lomita Historical Park, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, within or east of the Vista del Mar Ranch tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, or the National Butterfly Center, DHS said. This is because Congress refused to fund border wall construction if those areas were included.
At question is still whether a one-third mile section of Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, in Alamo, Texas, will be exempt from construction. This section had been purchased by Santa Ana from private landowners and appears to be on border wall construction plans released by CBP.
This is not the first time the Trump Administration has waived environmental regulations in order to build new border wall miles on the Southwest border. And as the 2020 presidential election nears, President Donald Trump has increasingly boasted on Twitter with regularity about the number of border wall miles already built, under construction and about to begin.
CBP said the waivers were needed to quickly fill in gaps in the existing border wall because the Rio Grande Sector accounts for 40 percent of all migrant apprehensions in the nation, and ranks No. 1 for seizure of cocaine and marijuana on the Southwest border.
Said Rep. Gonzalez: “We do need to secure our border and crack down on criminal activities. But that is done best by engaging with our Mexican and Central American neighbors to address the violence and economic opportunity in their countries and investing in technology and human capital — not building a frivolous border wall.”
The cost for the 65 miles of new border wall in the three counties could total $811 million, CBP has said.
The waivers come just as 300 National Guard troops have arrived in the region to help patrol the existing border wall and new construction areas, U.S. Border Patrol told Border Report. The National Guard troops will relieve U.S. Army soldiers.
Many residents in South Texas are angry by what they call a “militarized” presence. Read a previous Border Report story on the ‘militarization’ of the region.
“We call on the U.S. Congress to repeal this waiver authority which allows the executive branch to legally commit crimes against humanity,” Salinas said.
74 Miles of Border Wall Completed, 158 More Under Construction
Border Patrol officials say communities along the border are safer following the completion of 74 miles of improved border wall systems. Those systems include 30-foot bollard walls, new border-access roads, lighting, and electronic surveillance. Construction on an additional 158 miles is underway with 450 miles scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.
Construction crews under the direction of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a report on Friday showing the completion of 74 miles of replacement border wall systems along the southwestern border with Mexico. Officials stated that 158 miles of additional walls are currently under construction and 276 miles are in a “pre-construction phase,” according to information provided to Breitbart News by CBP officials.
The new border wall system in Calexico, California, is the first section of replacement wall to be completed, El Centro Sector Assistant Chief Patrol Agent Joshua C. Devack said in a video presentation on Friday. “Since the border wall system was completed in this area, local business and commerce is thriving and areas once considered dangerous are now secure,” Devack stated. “In addition, overall crime in this area has been significantly reduced thus making our community a safer place to live and work.”
Since the completion of the border wall system in Calexico, CA, overall crime in the area has been reduced making the community a safer place to live and to work. Areas once considered dangerous are now secure. To learn more: pic.twitter.com/btC1Box7AB
— CBP El Centro (@CBPElCentro) October 25, 2019
Prior to the new wall systems installed in January 2017, many sections of the border were relatively unsecured. Those areas consisted of landing mat walls that could easily be cut or climbed and other barriers designed only to stop vehicle traffic, Devack reported. The newly completed wall system includes 30-foot high bollard walls, new border-access roads allowing faster response by agents, additional lighting, and electronic surveillance systems, which provide advance warning and faster detection of border-crossing activities.
The new wall systems also provide safety for Border Patrol agents working alongside the wall.
In July, Border Patrol Agent Mike Matzke told Breitbart News in his capacity as president of the National Border Patrol Council’s Local 2554 in El Centro, California, “We’ve had people throw Molotov cocktails over the old landing mat fence and it was dangerous because we couldn’t see through it like we can with Trump’s new border barrier. Here in El Centro, we have the highest stretch of border wall on the entire Southwest border. Trump’s new wall section is 30-feet high,” Matzke said.
“A couple-mile stretch of Trump’s wall might not seem like a lot to some people, but it sure makes all the difference in the world to us,” Matzke said about the new wall in El Centro. “We are safer and our objectives are much easier to meet.”
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan tweeted, “The frontline men and women of @CBP tell me walls work and help them do their job. That matters. And while not everyone who crosses the border is bad, this wall is important to protect USBP agents and to stop drugs and criminals from entering your communities.”
The frontline men and women of @CBP tell me walls work and help them do their job. That matters. And while not everyone who crosses the border is bad, this wall is important to protect USBP agents and to stop drugs and criminals from entering your communities. https://t.co/ApEFmfVLTg
— Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan (@CBPMarkMorgan) October 24, 2019
CBP spent approximately $292 million to construct 40 miles of new border wall systems in the San Diego, El Centro, and El Paso Sectors, officials stated. These walls replaced “dilapidated and outdated designs in high priority locations.” CBP funded an additional $49 million in the Rio Grande Valley Sector to build 35 border wall gates to close gaps in the existing wall systems. The gates are currently under construction, officials reported.
CBP officials report approximately 509 miles of new border wall systems are identified for construction projects. These projects will be funded by a combination of Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense funding and proceeds from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund. Those plans include approximately 141 miles of new primary walls, 24 miles of new primary levee walls, 68 miles of replacement primary walls for dilapidated designs, 205 miles for primary walls replacing existing vehicle barriers, 14 miles of secondary walls in place of dilapidated designs, and 57 miles of new secondary walls.
“Every new mile of new border wall system—including new barrier, technology, lighting, and roads—delivers new capability that will help my men and women immensely in their efforts to safely and effectively secure the border,” U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost said in a written statement.