Emailed document outlines plans, timeline for border wall in Cameron County

Evidence continues to mount that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is planning to build more border wall in Cameron County.

An email sent out Friday by the Rio Bravo Property Owners Association to its members who live in the River Bend Resort & Golf Club and obtained by The Brownsville Herald says Border Patrol is planning to build border wall in the area in 2020.

This letter follows three land condemnation lawsuits filed by the United States Attorney’s Office against the owners of three properties—all south of Military Highway and west of Brownsville — in the last four weeks.

The River Bend Resort & Golf Club is south of Military Highway as well, by Veterans Memorial Early College High School, just east of the West Rail Bridge into Mexico.

This area is approximately five miles from a small neighborhood in San Pedro where the USAO has filed land condemnation lawsuits against homes owned by Jaime R. Treviño and Rocio Treviño and by Salvador J. Castillo and Yvette Arroyo, who told the Herald last week that their neighbors received letters from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting access to their properties to survey for the construction of border fencing.

The first such lawsuit filed in the years following the border fencing built here a decade ago is against Wanda Hollon and Robert R. Mathers, who own an agricultural property approximately one mile northwest of the Silas Ray Power Station, which is located off of Power Plant Drive on the western edge of Brownsville, also south of Military Highway.

Approximately eight miles separate that property from the small neighborhood in San Pedro with the River Bend Resort & Golf Club sitting between those two points.

A stretch of border fence already sits between the River Bend Resort & Golf Club and the San Pedro neighborhood.

The letter sent to members of the Rio Bravo Property Owners Association states that the River Bend Resort & Golf Club’s management met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Border Patrol and the Border Wall Installation team and were told that CBP has already secured funding for the project.

“So far in our four and a half year ownership the consensus has been from multiple Border Patrol agents and leadership that River Bend was not on their priority list and that they were not recommending we get a wall,” the email stated. “On Thursday they informed us that the decision had been made and the funding was in place for River Bend to receive its portion of the wall.”

The email included a timeline, which puts conceptual design, alignment, surveying and overall cost of the project to be completed by September 2019.

The contract is scheduled to be awarded by December 2019, with final design, appraisals and first condemnation letters being sent out in early 2020, according to the email.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2020, the email indicated.
“They are considering possible alignments of the wall, primarily one of two options (a) Along the levee or (b) Along Highway 281,” the email stated. “We expect them to be surveying both.”

The letter also indicated that the River Bend Resort & Golf Course has retained legal counsel to help it navigate through the process, but that it will be up to Rio Bravo Property Owners Association members to hire an attorney.

“At this time unfortunately this is all the information we have,” the email said. “We will keep you informed as we learn new information.”

An email sent to an address monitored by Border Patrol press agents asking about the agency’s plans for new border fencing was not immediately answered.

CBP has not publicly announced any new border fencing planned for Cameron County aside from 11 gates.

That work was announced last year when CBP said it awarded $3,731,380 for seven gates to fill in border wall gaps with an option for four gates valued at $1,985,525 — or $519,710 per gate for 11 gates.

The last round of border wall funding allotted $1.4 billion for 55 miles of new border wall in the Rio Grande Valley, including 33 miles in Hidalgo and Starr counties.