The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorized U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to move forward with the planning and execution of up to approximately 20 miles of border barrier system, with steel bollard panels placed in U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector, as mandated by the DHS Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 border barrier appropriation. This project is consistent with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) plan to fulfill the requirements of President Biden’s Proclamation, which ended the diversion of funds for border wall from military projects or other sources. A substantial portion of unobligated funds that had been diverted from the Department of Defense have already been returned to their original sources. DHS is legally mandated to use the remaining FY2019 funds for their appropriated purpose.
In FY 2019 Congress appropriated CBP $1.375B “for the construction of primary pedestrian fencing, including levee pedestrian fencing, in the Rio Grande Valley”. Today, CBP has an estimated $190M remaining in FY 2019 funding. The Administration continues to call on Congress to cancel or reappropriate remaining border barrier funding and instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border. Until and unless Congress cancels these funds, the law requires DHS to use the funds consistent with their appropriated purpose. DHS first pursued other priority projects in RGV with the appropriated FY 2019 funding, including life, safety, environmental, and other remediation measures, system attributes for existing barrier, and environmental mitigation projects.
As required by DHS’s FY 2019 appropriation, CBP will be using 18-foot steel bollard fence panels placed in removable concrete jersey barriers, as the steel bollard design remains the most operationally effective design and has been tested and evaluated over the last several years. DHS continues to prioritize deploying technology and other system elements. This project will also include the installation of system attributes, such as detection technology, lighting, and access roads. The proposed project, which does not involve the use of U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge tracts, is located within Starr County, Texas, which is USBP’s highest priority location within the RGV Sector.
In addition, DHS authorized CBP to move forward with the Yuma Andrade and El Centro Calexico Fence Replacement Projects to mitigate immediate life, safety and operational risks to the local community, migrants, and Border Patrol agents in the area. Both projects will replace dilapidated segments of legacy fencing that presently create safety and security concerns for USBP agents, migrants, and the surrounding community. These replacement projects, similar to previously approved projects, prioritizes the completion of activities and projects needed to address life, safety and operational risks – including the safety and security of individuals, Border Patrol agents, migrants, and nearby communities.
Prior to the start of any work, DHS will work closely with stakeholders, including impacted landowners, tribal, state, and local elected officials, and federal agencies. DHS remains committed to the protection of the environment and will conduct environmental surveys, analyze the potential for environmental impacts from the implementation of the projects, and develop measures that avoid or minimize impacts to the greatest extent possible.
DHS continues to prioritize fence replacement and gap closure projects and to prioritize non-barrier solutions, including deploying technology and other system elements in locations where barrier has been constructed.