After Congress grants only a fraction of the president’s requested $25 billion for border wall construction, officials now expect a barrier covering only around 1,000 miles. Congress ultimately allotted only $1.6 billion for border security in the omnibus spending bill, which President Donald Trump signed in late March.
According to reports, officials plan to allocate the funding on about 100 miles of new and replacement fencing, 33 miles of which is in the Rio Grande Valley with construction expected to begin this year. Indeed, most of the new construction is slated for South Texas with the Rio Grande Valley considered a priority area.
“The Valley is the busiest stretch of the border in the country for illegal immigration,” one publication reports. For the last year, Trump Administration officials “said it wants to fill gaps in the existing 20 miles of fence built years ago atop flood-control levees in Hidalgo County.”
Besides construction efforts in South Texas, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials plan to replace 28 miles of primary and secondary fencing near San Diego. In this, efforts go to replacing 2 miles of squat vehicle barriers with 30-foot-high bollard fencing. New Mexico will see 20 miles of new wall construction. Four miles of new wall will go up in El Paso. Some portions of these efforts began last year, others will begin in April this year.
President Trump’s longstanding advocacy around a border wall seems to have become increasingly politicized over time. While calls for the wall’s construction and fortification began in his early days of candidacy, the president further digs in his heels as efforts with Democrats stalled in crafting permanent legislation around immigration and border security efforts.
But besides waging the battle for the wall only with politicians, some environmentalists also take issue with the project. Environmental critics say planned construction in the Rio Grande Valley mean animals in the area could become trapped in the floodplain when the river rises.
John Torres, communications director for community service organization La Union Del Pueblo Entero, says construction of the wall also includes negative impacts for human residents in the area.
“Our community continues to the river,” he says. Whether framed in terms of public spaces or community spaces, “our community doesn’t end at the levees and our natural spaces don’t end at the levees.”