Internal Border Patrol communications, obtained by University of Texas law school professor Denise Gilman after a lengthy Freedom of Information battle and shared with the American-Statesman, reveal some of the political realities that drove construction of the $2.4 billion wall/fence authorized by the 2006 Secure Fence Act.
In a March 2007 email, a Border Patrol commander complained when he learned the wall would not be built in places where real estate costs were too high. “I advised that this would be operationally impacting,” Jeffrey Self wrote. “I was advised that funding and timelines are driving this deployment, not operational need, but they would do what they can.”
Self also complained when engineers said that because of flood plain issues, the fence would be built “a half mile to a mile north of the International Boundary.”
“I told them this was unacceptable,” he wrote. “They pushed back with timeline issues.”
There are 1,100 miles of Texas border that are unfenced, making the state ground zero for Trump’s plan for a border wall. The emails suggest that the Trump administration might bump up against the same difficulties, possibly made even more acute because the fence has already been built in many of the Texas locations with fewest objections from property owners, or flooding or other terrain issues.
“As money got short, contractors asked for the easiest miles to build on,” said Gilman, director of UT’s immigration clinic. “So now (the second of round of construction) will be harder.”
This is an excerpt from the American-Statesman’s two-part report on what Trump’s call for a border wall means for Texas.