McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is urging the White House to fix breaches in the border levee system that the Trump administration cut for border wall construction, and that remain now that the Biden administration put a stop to construction.
Local officials fear breaches in the levee system could wreak havoc in deep South Texas if not fixed before the start of hurricane season. The levees, which can be as tall as 25 feet in some areas, were built under the 2006 Safe Fence Act to protect this delta region from Rio Grande flooding.
Hurricane season begins on June 1, and there are at least four breaches in the earthen dirt levee in Hidalgo County alone, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez told Border Report last week. The cuts were made during the Trump presidency as construction crews endeavored to build miles of border wall along the Rio Grande in areas like Palmview and Mission. But when President Joe Biden took office, he put a halt to border wall construction and that has left this region vulnerable to flooding, Cortez said.
“They just walked away from here,” Cortez said last week. “We hope they pay attention. This is a critical and dangerous situation for us.”
Cruz on Wednesday sent a letter to Biden that read: “Your decision to halt levee wall construction when you halted border wall construction has left hundreds of thousands of residents vulnerable in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV). We have heard from Hidalgo County officials and residents that as hurricane and flooding season soon approaches, the unfinished border wall levee system in Hidalgo County is a matter of urgent public safety. They have been emphatic—remediating the levee wall system should be an emergency priority. We urge you to allow the RGV Border Patrol Sector to complete and reinforce the compromised and unfinished levee system in Hidalgo County immediately.”
Cruz’s letter followed another letter that U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a fellow Republican from Texas, sent to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday also urging construction of the levee system, saying failure to do so is putting 200,000 residents in South Texas at risk and “in the path of catastrophic flooding as hurricane season rapidly approaches.”
Cruz said there are at least 14 miles of “compromised” levee system in Hidalgo County.
“When your administration halted border wall construction this January, it also halted construction on the levee wall system in Hidalgo County, leaving that system not only unfinished but compromised,” he wrote in the letter. “The RGV knows all too well the catastrophic effects of flooding.”
These April 14, 2021, photos below show the earthen dirt levee in Palmview, Texas, where the border wall was being built and where the levee was cut for heavy equipment to be moved through. Construction was halted on Jan. 20, by President Joe Biden. (Border Report Photos/Sandra Sanchez)
An extremely active hurricane season is predicted for 2021, with a Colorado State University study predicting 17 named storms, including eight hurricanes and four are expected to be “major,” Cruz wrote.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com.