Shutdown affects some local federal agencies, but not all

The Rio Grande Valley’s national wildlife refuges remain accessible but without full staffing or services. (Rick Kelly | The Valley Morning Star)

Veterans Administration hospitals and clinics remain open in Harlingen, along with Social Security Administration offices.

The U.S. Department of Justice Immigration Court is open and U.S. Border Patrol operations are continuing without interruption just like all federal law enforcement agencies, staff at the Harlingen station said yesterday.

Small Business Administration offices are closed.

“Due to the lapse in appropriations, the U.S. Small Business Administration is shut down,” read a sign on the building at 2422 E. Tyler Ave. “We look forward to your visit once the office reopens.”

The Valley’s national wildlife refuges remain accessible but without full staffing or services.

“In the event of a federal government shutdown, the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge auto tour (Lakeside Drive) and trails will remain accessible to visitors, but the facilities will be closed,” refuge officials said in a statement on Facebook.

At Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, access also is available during the shutdown but some services such as the visitor center will not be available.

“Where public access to refuge lands does not require the presence of a federal employee or contractor, activities on refuge lands will be allowed to continue on the same terms as before the appropriations lapse,” the refuge said in a statement posted on its website. “Any entry onto Refuge System property during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor’s sole risk.”

Some staff at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which operates the refuge system, will be on the job during the shutdown.

Law enforcement personnel are on duty, as well as USFWS fire management personnel.