WASHINGTON—Construction is underway on a new, 13-mile stretch of border infrastructure in the Rio Grande Valley, southeast Texas, on April 4.
Part of the construction is a continuation of a levee wall in Hidalgo County, which will double as flood protection for local towns and agriculture. The levee will sit about a mile from the Rio Grande, which is the U.S.–Mexico international border.
The levee wall system will be very similar to that constructed in the area during 2008, but will also include all-weather roads, lighting, enforcement cameras, and other related technology, according to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statement.
A CBP official told media in January that a wall isn’t a magic bullet to stop illegal border crossings—but the critical factor is that it slows illegal incursions and buys agents time to respond.
The Rio Grande Valley Sector is the nation’s busiest sector, accounting for more than 40 percent of all Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal aliens. It also accounts for more than 43 percent of marijuana seized at the southwest border for the fiscal year to date, and is second busiest sector for seized cocaine.
The sector has 320 miles of the country’s 2,000-mile international boundary with Mexico. In total, 654 miles of the border has some type of fence.
The majority of the sector’s illicit traffic occurs in areas of limited infrastructure, access and mobility, and technology, according to CBP.
Rio Grande Valley Deputy Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said so far this fiscal year, Border Patrol has apprehended more than 120,000 illegal border-crossers in the sector.
And a further 25,000 illegal aliens have evaded Border Patrol.
“We actually don’t know who they are,” Ortiz said March 22. “So far, here in south Texas, we’ve apprehended folks from 44 different countries. These are from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, you name it.”
Ortiz also said Border Patrol is only able to seize up to 10 percent of the drugs that cartels are trafficking across the border because resources are stretched so thin.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded two contracts totaling $312 million to SLSCO Ltd. for two other sections of levee wall system in 2018, also in Hidalgo County.
The fiscal 2018 funding included $1.375 billion for an expected 80 miles of barriers—including the brand new barrier in the Rio Grande Valley.