Texas

New segment of state-funded border wall raises security concerns in tiny South Texas town

Former mayor says gap in fence was meant to divert migrants from residential areas

LOS INDIOS, TX (border report) — A second segment of a state-funded border wall is being built in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley as part of the governor’s plan to crack down on illegal immigration, but local officials say they haven’t been consulted.

Steel poles 30 feet high rise through the small town of Los Indios, Texas, in Cameron County, about 30 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.

This is the second segment of the border wall to be built by the state in South Texas as part of Governor Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star border security initiative.

On Tuesday, construction crews hammered, sawed, lifted and hauled the massive structure into place in the western part of a rural town of less than 1,000 people.

On Tuesday, Los Indios alderman and former mayor Rick Cavazos gave Border Report a tour of the area. He says government officials did not tell them how long the section would be or whether there would be a gate to allow farmers and residents to cross the section to the south.

“No one has contacted the city of Los Indios,” Cavasos told Border Report. “We didn’t have any roundtables or meetings with state officials.”

The State of Texas is erecting a small section of a 30-foot border barrier in Los Indios, Texas as part of the Operation Lone Star border security initiative. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

Kavazos, who has been a border guard agent for 24 years, said he is concerned that this new barrier will actually force migrants to move towards his small town, not away from it.

“Tell us what’s going on. Was there any contact with the border guard? Is this a project sanctioned by the border guard? Or is the border guard aware at all? We just have very little or no information,” he said while touring the region with Border Report on Tuesday.

He said that when the federal government built the border barrier in 2009, it left the area open to draw migrants into the field and away from residential areas. Now, he says, he fears that migrants arriving from Mexico will go to the homes of local residents.

“It’s interesting that here in this area they’re building a state border wall, because there’s a federal border wall to the east and west of this area, and this gap here was deliberately left open without building a fence back then, and the reason was because traffic has been pushed out of the neighborhoods into an open field so that the border patrol can better manage traffic here,” Kavazos said.

Los Indios alderman Rick Cavazos, a former mayor, says the area where the state of Texas is building a border wall is rural fields. He used to be a border guard agent and said it was in this area that they channeled illegal migration and kept migrants away from the city. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

Cavazos said he worked for the Migration Patrol as a border agent in the area and he doubts there has been a significant increase in illegal migration to justify building a border wall in the area.

This is only the second section of the border wall built by the state, despite more than $800 million worth of border wall contracts awarded by the Texas Commission on facilities from Cameron County to Del Rio.

This includes a $224 million contract with Tommy Fisher’s Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. to build a 9.4-mile border barrier in Webb County. Fisher’s contract is by far the largest awarded by the state.

Fisher built a controversial 3-mile private border wall in Mission, Texas on the banks of the Rio Grande that various reports could collapse and change the course of an international river.

During the TFC meeting in Austin last week, members of the commission said they could no longer contract for border walls until the Texas Legislature allocates more funds for border security. The legislature just started its 88th legislative session earlier this month but is expected to approve billions of dollars in border security.

Texas is building a border wall in Los Indios, Texas, using the same plans from the Trump administration and using excess steel for border poles. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

The state has spent more than $4 billion of taxpayer money on border security, and Abbott said this is because the Biden administration failed to secure the Texas-Mexico border.

Border Report asked TFC how long it would take to build this segment of the wall across Los Indios, but a spokeswoman said “specific project locations have not been released at this time.”

During a January 19 meeting, TFC chief executive John Ruff told panelists that they were using wall panels that were surplus from the federal government — leftovers from building walls during the Trump administration, “which we got at a substantially reduced price.”

The first segment of the border wall built in Texas is 2.7 miles long and was completed last year near La Grulla in Starr County, about 70 miles west of Los Indios.

Sandra Sanchez can be contacted at [email protected]

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