November 14, 2017
What is 33 miles long, will be built in 15 segments, and will run along the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, border with Mexico?
It is the first of many planned parts of the upcoming new and improved U.S.-Mexico border wall, courtesy of Donald Trump.
There is little popular support for the project, but Trump’s wall keeps going forward, at least in its planning stages.
Part of the documents turned over to The Texas Observer under a FOIA request. An odd note is that the document says not to turn it over in the event of an FOIA request, apparently anticipating -- and attempting to hide -- what is going on.
The latest part was recently disclosed in The Texas Observer after a Freedom of Information Act request about what was happening with the Wall plan. It covers a stretch that will spread through three major wildlife preserves along the way, shredding the local ecosystems in the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and the National Butterfly Center.
The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is marked in the documents as “easy” – to seize and destroy with the border wall construction, presumably – because the federal government already owns the land. It has 400 indigenous bird species and 450 plant species, including the Texas Sabal Palm and an endangered ocelot. Assuming the project goes through as planned, according to comments made by Scott Nicol, co-chair of the Sierra Club’s borderlands team, to the Texas Observer, “With this type of construction it would be difficult for Santa Ana to stay open.”
The last of these three, already having been forewarned that the new wall would run through its grounds, previously said it was planning to sue the federal government to halt construction of the wall.
Other sections of the planned regional wall would run approximately 2.24 miles (or 3.6 kilometers). It is construction wake would be the destruction of a church, a cemetery, and an RV park where, according to the documents discovered, “upwards of 100 homeowners” would be impacted.
All parts of the wall in this part of it, at least, will have a concrete base with an 18-foot (5.5 meter) steel bollard fence protecting it. The Santa Ana portion of the wall would also include a special cleared 150-foot (4.5 meter) region the documents call an “enforcement zone” that runs a bit south of the wall of the levee. That section would include an all-weather road with fiber-optic motion sensors installed underground. This part of the wall has a projected cost of $45 million and has a completion date of July 2019.
For those wondering, the wall project is at least partially funded at this point, despite there not being much public discussion of this. In July 2017 Congress approved $1.6 billion for building new and fortifying existing border barriers along the border. The same approvals authorized $428 million for the Rio Grande Area.