U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the beginning of construction for 13 miles of the Rio Grande Valley Wall System Project. The new improvements are on federal land in the McAllen Station area of responsibility, officials stated.
CBP officials stated that the construction is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The project area is along the border area west of Green Road, along the Mission Main Canal. It will be built along the existing earthen levees, according to information provided by CBP officials.
Crews completed the pre-construction activities, including clearing the land by about mid-February. The project does not include any land in Bentsen State Park or the National Butterfly Center, officials stated.
In February, the North American Butterfly Association filed a lawsuit against the federal government that sought to stop the Trump Administration from building border barriers on the National Butterfly Center located near Mission, Texas, Breitbart News reported at the time. Language in the FY 2019 appropriations bill prohibits construction in those two locations.
A DHS planning document reported on by Breitbart News in April 2018, notes that sections of the Rio Grande Valley Sector are considered “high priority” areas for the first sections of the border wall’s construction. The sector is ground-zero for illegal crossings by migrant families and unaccompanied minors. Nearly half of all apprehensions of migrants illegally crossing the southwestern U.S. border happen in this sector.
In November 2018, CBP announced the award of $145 million in construction contracts to SLSCO, Ltd. The project calls for the construction and installation of “tactical infrastructure” to include 18 foot-tall steel bollard walls which will be placed on top of reinforced sections of concrete levee walls. Contractors will also create a new “enforcement zone” by removing 150 feet of vegetation along the new wall system.
Included in the “enforcement zone” will be detection technology, lighting systems, video surveillance, and an all-weather road that will run parallel to the levee wall. The roadway will provide Border Patrol agents a pathway to quickly respond to any illegal crossings in the area.
A few weeks later, CBP announced the award of a second contract to SLSCO, Ltd. The $167 million deal provides for building about eight miles of either new or replacement border barriers.
“Once constructed, this levee wall system will serve as a persistent impediment to transnational criminal organizations, while still allowing river access for property owners, other federal/state/local officials, local emergency responders, and USBP,” Border Patrol officials said in a written statement in November.
“RGV accounts for a large percentage of the southwest border illegal alien apprehensions and narcotic seizures and the majority of its activity is occurring in areas where RGV has limited infrastructure, access and mobility, and technology,” CBP officials stated.