Wildlife Refuge Site Selected as Start of Border Wall Construction
ALAMO – The 74-year refuge to migratory birds, draping Spanish moss and a variety of local wildlife is now slated as the starting point for the White House's new border wall.
If 60 miles of the new border wall is funded by Congress, as the administration is seeking, the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge will be the first construction site, said Manuel Padilla, chief of the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector.
"If that funding comes to fruition, our starting point will likely be right there in Santa Ana Refuge," said Padilla.
The new information came as Kirstjen Nielsen, the newly confirmed secretary of the Department of Homeland Security came to tour the Valley.
Padilla said Nielsen met staff and observed security measures in the area.
Staged along the edge of the border wall in the city of Hidalgo, with federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife property to their backs, Nielsen stressed the need to secure the border, expedite deportations and limit backlogs in the immigration courts.
"We actually account for about 46 percent of the Southwest border apprehensions and this fiscal year actually leading in marijuana seizures," said Padilla.
Padilla said his agency consulted with the agency in charge of the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge about the plans.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Interior, said they are onboard with the White House's plan.
"The Department of the Interior is one of several federal agencies that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has engaged with to implement the President's Executive Order 13767," said a spokesperson for the agency in a written statement. "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to work with CBP on any proposed activities, through formal and informal processes, to minimize impacts to the region's national wildlife refuges and natural resources."
The executive order was published Jan. 25 ordering improvements to border security.
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