Homeland Security Moves to Boost Security at Border

Homeland Security Moves to Boost Security at Border

The Department of Homeland Security gave notice it plans to waive environmental laws to install gates along a stretch of border fence.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced plans to fill gaps in 60 miles of security fencing at the U.S. and Mexico border in Rio Grande Valley where it said it would eventually install gates roughly a decade ago. 

Now, infused with cash from the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is finally looking to make good on its promise. Earlier this week, the agency filed a notice in the Federal Register saying it plans to waive more than a dozen environmental and other laws so it can install gates and roads along the border fence in Cameron County. 

A project to install some 35 gates has been authorized, and funded, since at least July 2017, but the agency has been largely silent on when exactly it would begin work on the project. The exact date is still unclear, but the notice indicates construction may be imminent. 

One of the gaps the U.S. Border Patrol will close is in the Texas Nature Conservancy's Southmost Preserve, which is home to some of the last remaining stands of sabal palm tree forest in the country. Spokeswoman Vanessa Martin told Texas Tribune the conservancy received a letter on Tuesday regarding the project, which she described as "a looming threat."

"To our knowledge, DHS has not finalized the access plan but we’ve made a request to keep the gate open during business hours so that active restoration, research, farm operations and the native plant nursery, which serves as the seed and plant source for restoration projects in the region, can continue," Martin wrote in an email.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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