The federal government has green-lighted 65 miles of new border barrier in South Texas, with work scheduled to begin in early 2020. The announcement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) details three new construction contracts for sections of wall or fencing to be built in the Rio Grande Valley, specifically in Cameron, Starr and Hidalgo counties. CBP estimates the cost of the new sections at between $385 million and $800 million depending on what features are added.
The new wall sections are part of a renewed building boom on the border wall that began earlier this year, as the Trump Administration has moved more aggressively to get more of the wall completed. Chris Cabrera with the National Border Patrol Council says there are different types of barrier depending on the terrain. "We have some (sections of wall) that are built into a levee system, and then we have some that are like a gigantic steel picket fence," says Cabrera. "We have a mixture of both in our area, and we're starting to see them break ground now."
CBP reports the new sections of wall will be between 18 and 30 feet tall, and will include things like lighting, enforcement cameras, and other technology. "You're going to have all-weather roads on either side (of the wall), and then there are going to be access gates cutting through it," says Cabrera. "So there's a lot more than just the actual wall itself going up, but every bit of it is necessary to patrol it and to access it."
The new sections of wall are also described as "non-contiguous," but Cabrera believes any new barriers along the border will improve security. "With these new sections of wall in place, then when people do cross it's going to funnel them into an open area where it's safer for the border patrol agents, it's safer for the people crossing, and it's safer for the community," he says.