U.S. Customs and Border Protection, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, earlier this month awarded an $80.9 million base contract to New Mexico-based Southwest Valley Constructors for the construction of 11 miles of new levee walls at the U.S.-Mexico border in Hidalgo County, Texas. With options, the total contract is worth up to $304.6 million.
Southwest will perform the work at three locations along the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) levee beginning in Mission, Texas. The wall will have the same design as other levee wall barriers in the area — 18-foot-tall steel bollards on top of a concrete wall to the height of existing levee — but will also feature all-weather roads, lighting and other technology that will create a total enforcement zone. Other work awarded to Southwest includes 25 automated border wall gates off the IBWC levee at the end of or along existing levee ramps.
CBP said the money will come from appropriations, not Department of Defense (DOD) funds that the administration tapped after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency at the border in February.
CBP also gave Southwest a $33 million contract in June to build about four miles of similar border wall in Starr County, Texas. That money also came from appropriations, not the DOD or Department of the Treasury. The Trump administration is appealing a Ninth Circuit court ruling that it cannot divert money from the military and use it for border wall construction.
That court issued an injunction against the administration, preventing it from moving forward with those projects using military funding while the appeal makes its way through the courts. But the Supreme Court lifted that injunction, allowing construction to continue.
The CBP also makes a point of stating in its press release that the 11 miles of bollard-style fencing will be erected in areas where there have been no previous barriers. Funding available to the CBP via 2017 and 2018 appropriations were earmarked for both new and replacement wall construction. However, last month, the agency said that the 50 miles of bollard fencing it has completed has been replacement projects only.
Meanwhile, the CBP, according to this latest press release, said it will not perform work in sensitive areas like the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge or the National Butterfly Center.