LOS INDIOS, Texas (Border Report) — A second segment of the state-funded border wall is being built in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley as part of the governor’s plan to combat illegal immigration, but local officials say they weren’t consulted.
The 30-foot-tall steel bollards are going up through the small town of Los Indios, Texas, in Cameron County, about 30 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s the second segment of border wall to be built by the state in South Texas as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star border security initiative.
On Tuesday, construction crews hammered, sawed, lifted and heaved the hulking structure into place on the west end of the rural town that has a population under 1,000.
Los Indios Alderman and former Mayor Rick Cavazos gave Border Report a tour of the area Tuesday. He says state officials have not informed them how long the segment will be or whether there will be gates to allow farmers and residents to cross south of the section.
“Nobody’s reached out to the City of Los Indios,” Cavazos told Border Report. “We haven’t had any kind of roundtable or meeting with officials in the state.”
Cavazos, who was a Border Patrol agent for 24 years, said he is concerned that this new barrier fence will actually force migrants toward his small town, not away from it.
“Let us know what’s going on. Was there communication with Border Patrol? Is this a project sanctioned with Border Patrol? Or is Border Patrol in the loop at all? We just don’t have really very little or no information,” he said as he toured the area with Border Report Tuesday.
He said when the federal government built a border barrier in 2009 it left this area open to encourage migrants into the field area and away from residential areas. Now, he says, he worries migrants who cross from Mexico will go to residents’ homes.
“It’s interesting that they’re building a state border wall here in this area because there is federal border wall to the east and west of this area and this gap here was intentionally left open with no fence construction back then and the reason was so that the traffic was pushed out of the neighborhoods and into this open field area so Border Patrol could better work the traffic here,” Cavazos said.
Cavazos said he worked migration patrols as a Border Patrol agent in this area, and he questions whether there has been a significant increase in illegal migration to warrant putting a border wall through this field.
This is only the second border wall segment to be built by the state, despite over $800 million in state-funded border wall contracts that have been awarded by the Texas Facilities Commission from Cameron County to Del Rio.
This includes a $224 million contract with Tommy Fisher’s company, Fisher Sand & Gravel Co., to build 9.4 miles of border barrier in Webb County. Fisher’s contract is the largest to date that the state has negotiated.
Fisher built a controversial 3-mile-long private border wall in Mission, Texas, on the banks of the Rio Grande, which various reports say is at risk of falling down and changing the course of the international river.
During a TFC meeting in Austin last week, commissioners said they could not issue any more border wall contracts until the Texas Legislature appropriates more border security funds. The Legislature just began its 88th Legislative Session earlier this month but is expected to approve billions of dollars for border security.
The state has spent over $4 billion in taxpayer funds on border security and Abbott has said it is because the Biden administration has failed to protect the Texas-Mexico border.
Border Report asked the TFC how long this segment of wall being built through Los Indios will be but was told by a spokeswoman that “specific project locations are not being released at this time.”
During the Jan. 19 meeting, TFC Executive Director John Raff told commissioners they were using wall panels that were surplus from the federal government — leftover from wall construction during the Trump administration, “that we have obtained for a substantially discounted price.”
The first segment of Texas-built border wall is 1.7 miles long and was finished last year near La Grulla, in Starr County, which is about 70 miles west of Los Indios.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com