On Friday, President Trump signed a bipartisan government spending bill that averts a shutdown and appropriates $1.375 billion for roughly 55 miles of new bollard fencing in Texas along the Mexico border. Earlier in the day, he announced a national emergency and secured an additional $6.5 billion to build a border wall. The national emergency is expected to be challenged in courts.

Of the nearly 2,000 miles of border from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, only about 700 have any sort of man-made physical barrier. That mix of fencing, vehicle barriers and levees is mostly in California, Arizona and New Mexico, where the government controls large swaths of the adjoining land. Much of the rest of the border is dotted with foreboding natural features — rough mountains, expansive deserts and the Rio Grande, which divides the United States and Mexico in Texas. The 55 miles of new barriers authorized under the act signed Friday will be built in the easternmost section of the border, the Rio Grande Valley Sector.

SEC. 230.(a) Of the total amount made available under "U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Procurement, Construction, and Improvements", $2,370,222,000 shall be available only as follows:

(1) $1,375,000,000 is for the construction of primary pedestrian fencing, including levee pedestrian fencing, in the Rio Grande Valley Sector; (2) $725,000,000 is for the acquisition and deployment of border security technologies and trade and travel assets and infrastructure, to include 570,000,000 for non-intrusive inspection equipment at ports of entry; and (3) $270,222,000 is for construction and facil1ity improvements, to include $222,000,000 for humanitarian needs, $14,775,000 for Office of Field Operations facilities, and $33,447,000 for Border Patrol station facility improvements.

Existing fence

Federal, state and local

protected areas

NORTH

San

Diego

Tijuana

Pacific

Ocean

U.S.

CALIF.

Mexicali

Sonoyta

ARIZONA

Tucson

Nogales

NEW

MEXICO

200 MILES

Ciudad

Juarez

El Paso

MEXICO

U.S.

Presidio

Big

Bend

Piedras

Negras

TEXAS

Eagle

Pass

Laredo

Reynosa

Rio Grande

sector

Brownsville

Matamoros

Houston

Gulf of Mexico

Existing fence

Los Angeles

NORTH

Federal, state and local

protected areas

San Diego

Tijuana

CALIFORNIA

Pacific

Ocean

U.S.

Mexicali

ARIZONA

Sonoyta

Tucson

Nogales

NEW

MEXICO

MEXICO

Ciudad

Juarez

—El Paso

U.S.

Presidio

Big

Bend

TEXAS

200 MILES

Piedras

Negras

Eagle Pass

Laredo

Reynosa

McAllen

Rio Grande

sector

Matamoros

Brownsville

Houston

Gulf of Mexico

Existing fence

Federal, state and local protected areas

N.M.

ARIZ.

CALIF.

TEXAS

El Paso

Houston

U.S.

Ciudad

Juarez

Tijuana

Rio Grande

sector

Big

Bend

Nogales

MEXICO

McAllen

Reynosa

200 MILES

Federal, state and local protected areas

Existing fence

NEW

MEXICO

CALIF.

ARIZONA

Houston

TEXAS

El Paso

Tucson

Ciudad

Juarez

U.S.

Rio Grande

sector

Tijuana

Sonoyta

Eagle

Pass

Big

Bend

Nogales

Piedras

Negras

Laredo

MEXICO

McAllen

Reynosa

200 MILES

Existing fence

Federal, state and local protected areas

CALIFORNIA

ARIZONA

NEW MEXICO

TEXAS

U.S.

El Paso

Tucson

San Diego

Ciudad

Juarez

Mexicali

Tijuana

Sonoyta

Rio Grande

sector

Eagle

Pass

Nogales

Big

Bend

Pacific

Ocean

Piedras

Negras

MEXICO

Laredo

Gulf of

Mexico

McAllen

Matamoros

Reynosa

200 MILES

The latest authorized barriers, called “primary pedestrian fencing,” are in addition to 33 miles of barriers approved in March. The act specifically exempts certain landmarks and properties that had been threatened with construction, although Trump could attempt to override the protections using funds secured through the national emergency.

Safe for now are the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and the adjacent National Butterfly Center, a nonprofit dedicated to the study and conservation of wild butterflies in their natural habitats. It straddles a levee upon which a new barrier was slated to be built, and a photograph the center posted last week showed an excavator parked next to its property.

SEC. 231. None of the funds made available by this Act or prior Acts are available for the construction of pedestrian fencing ––

(1) within the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge; (2) within the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (3) within La Lomita Historical park; (4) within the National Butterfly Center; or (5) within or east of the Vista del Mar Ranch tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wild life Refuge.

The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville also fought the new construction in court. It claimed that the plan to build on top of the levee adjacent to La Lomita mission — a small white chapel on the banks of the Rio Grande — infringed on the rights of Catholic parishioners to practice their faith by obstructing them from attending services.

A judge ruled that the government can begin surveying for the barrier last week, and the diocese vowed to fight the ruling. But the new compromise bill explicitly states that no new barrier can be built on the land near the mission.

The exemptions were added by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.), the only member on the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security who is from a border district. He also carved out protections for the Vista del Mar Ranch tract, future home of a SpaceX commercial spaceport.

Existing

fence

Fence earmarked

to be constructed

McAllen

STARR

CO.

HIDALGO

CO.

CAMERON

CO.

U.S.

McAllen

Brownsville

MEXICO

Reynosa

Matamoros

Detail

20 MILES

Existing

fence

Fence earmarked to be constructed from March 2018 continuing resolution

STARR

CO.

HIDALGO

CO.

20 MILES

U.S.

Detail

McAllen

Brownsville

Reynosa

Matamoros

McAllen

MEXICO

Existing fence

New barriers funded in 2018, yet to be constructed

Areas off limits

STARR

CO.

HIDALGO

CO.

McAllen

Harlingen

U.S.

Roma

McAllen

MEXICO

Reynosa

Matamoros

Detail below

10 MILES

Existing fence

New barriers funded in 2018, yet to be constructed

Areas off limits

STARR

CO.

HIDALGO

CO.

CAMERON

CO.

McAllen

U.S.

Harlingen

Roma

Miguel

Aleman

McAllen

Brownsville

MEXICO

Reynosa

Matamoros

Detail below

10 MILES

Existing fence

New barriers funded in 2018, yet to be constructed

Areas off limits

STARR

CO.

CAMERON

CO.

HIDALGO

CO.

U.S.

McAllen

Harlingen

Rio Grande

Roma

Miguel

Aleman

McAllen

Brownsville

MEXICO

Reynosa

Detail below

Matamoros

10 MILES

NORTH

Rio

Grande

Penitas

U.S.

MEXICO

2 MILES

Madero

Anzalduas

Port of Entry

Reynosa

HIDALGO

COUNTY

Hidalgo

McAllen

Pharr

The 2019 border compromise spending bill prohibits any fence building within the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, National Butterfly Center and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Weslaco

U.S.

MEXICO

Progreso

Nuevo

Progreso

Mercedes

Rio

Grande

NORTH

Rio

Grande

Penitas

MEXICO

U.S.

2 MILES

Anzalduas

Port of Entry

Madero

HIDALGO

COUNTY

Reynosa

Hidalgo

Port of

Entry

Hidalgo

McAllen

Pharr

Pharr Port

of Entry

The 2019 border compromise spending bill prohibits any fence building within the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, National Butterfly Center and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Donna Rio Bravo

International Bridge

U.S.

Weslaco

MEX.

HIDALGO

COUNTY

Progreso

Nuevo

Progreso

Progreso/Donna

Port of Entry

Mercedes

Rio

Grande

NORTH

Rio

Grande

Penitas

MEXICO

U.S.

2 MILES

Madero

Anzalduas

Port of Entry

HIDALGO

COUNTY

Reynosa

Hidalgo

Port of Entry

Hidalgo

McAllen

Pharr Port

of Entry

Pharr

The 2019 border compromise spending bill prohibits any fence building within the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, National Butterfly Center and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Rio

Grande

Donna Rio Bravo

International Bridge

U.S.

Weslaco

MEXICO

Progresso

Nuevo

Progreso

Progreso/Donna

Port of Entry

Mercedes

Rio

Grande

NORTH

2 MILES

Rio

Grande

Penitas

MEXICO

U.S.

The 2019 border compromise spending bill prohibits any fence building within the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, National Butterfly Center and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Anzalduas

Port of Entry

Madero

Reynosa

McAllen

Hidalgo Port of Entry

Hidalgo

Pharr Port

of Entry

Pharr

HIDALGO

COUNTY

Rio

Grande

U.S.

Rio

Bravo

Donna Rio Bravo

International Bridge

Weslaco

MEXICO

Progreso

Nuevo

Progreso

Progreso/Donna

Port of Entry

Mercedes

Rio

Grande

McAllen

Penitas

Pharr

Weslaco

Mercedes

HIDALGO

COUNTY

Madero

U.S.

Progreso

Progreso/Donna

Port of Entry

Donna Rio Bravo

International Bridge

The 2019 border compromise spending bill prohibits any fence building within the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, National Butterfly Center and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Anzalduas

Port of Entry

Hidalgo

Nuevo

Progreso

Hidalgo Port of Entry

Reynosa

Pharr Port

of Entry

MEXICO

Rio Bravo

2 MILES

McAllen

Mission

Pharr

Penitas

Weslaco

Mercedes

HIDALGO

COUNTY

Madero

U.S.

Progreso

Progreso/Donna

Port of Entry

The 2019 border compromise spending bill prohibits any fence building within the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, National Butterfly Center and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Donna Rio Bravo

International Bridge

Anzalduas

Port of Entry

Hidalgo

Nuevo

Progreso

Hidalgo Port of Entry

Reynosa

Pharr Port

of Entry

MEXICO

Rio Bravo

2 MILES

The spending bill also specifies cities and places where Department of Homeland Security officials must meet with local elected officials and collect public comment regarding the design, alignment and placement of physical barriers.

SEC. 232. (a) Prior to use of any funds made available by this Act for the construction of physical barriers within the city limits of any city or census designated place described in subsection (c), the Department of Homeland Security and the local elected officials of such a city or census designated place shall confer and seek to reach mutual agreement regarding the design and alignment of physical barriers within that city or the census designated place (as the case may be). Such consultations shall continue until September 30, 2019 (or until agreement is reached, if earlier) and may be extended beyond that date by agreement of the parties, and no funds made available in this Act shall be used for such construction while consultations are continuing.

(b) Not later than July 1, 2019, the Secretary shall issue notices for public comment regarding construction of pedestrian fencing in the places identified in subsection.

(c) The notices shall afford the public not less than 60 days to submit comments on the location of proposed fencing in the affected areas. Not later than 90 days following the end of the comment period identified in this subsection, the Department shall publish in the Federal Register its responses to the comments received along with its plans for construction in the areas identified in the no19 tice to which it is responding.

(c) The cities and census designated place described in this subsection are as follows: (1) Roma, Texas. (2) Rio Grande City, Texas. (3) Escobares, Texas. (4) La Grulla, Texas. (5) The census designated place of Salineno, Texas.

Existing

fence

Fence earmarked

to be constructed

U.S.

McAllen

Brownsville

Reynosa

Matamoros

MEXICO

20 MILES

Fence earmarked to be constructed from March 2018 continuing resolution

U.S.

McAllen

Brownsville

Reynosa

Matamoros

MEXICO

20 MILES

U.S.

McAllen

Reynosa

Matamoros

MEXICO

10 MILES

STARR

CO.

HIDALGO

CO.

CAMERON

CO.

Harlingen

U.S.

Miguel

Aleman

McAllen

Brownsville

MEXICO

Reynosa

Matamoros

10 MILES

STARR

CO.

CAMERON

CO.

HIDALGO

CO.

U.S.

Harlingen

Miguel

Aleman

McAllen

Brownsville

MEXICO

Reynosa

10 MILES

Matamoros

About this story

Fence delineations for Hidalgo County via Dr. Kenneth D. Madsen of Ohio State University. Starr County barrier locations are from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers documents obtained by Texas Observer. Penitas aerial imagery via Pictometry International and Google Earth for Madero. Protected lands data via USGS. Maps4News

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