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Fronteras: The Fight For — And Against — A Border Wall Between El Paso And The Rio Grande Valley

Angela Kocherga | KTEP
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan (left) interviewed by KTEP's Angela Kocherga during a visit to El Paso on Aug. 26, 2020.

More than 600 miles of wall are already built along the U.S.-Mexico southern border but President Donald Trump’s administration is working hard to expand that. That includes possible construction in Laredo, where city officials continue to walk a fine line with federal officials throughout the project, and in the Rio Grande Valley across a historic cemetery that residents are working hard to preserve.

Credit Angela Kocherga | KTEP
Vehicles wait in line on the Paso del Norte International Bridge linking El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

Acting CBP Commissioner Defends Border Wall System in El Paso

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials want 450 miles of new border barrier completed by the end of the year.

Acting CBP commissioner Mark Morgan was in El Paso last month touring a new stretch of wall that’s replacing some steel fencing. It’s made up of 30-foot tall steel bollards and is expected to stretch some 35 miles.

Standing just feet away from the barrier, Morgan spoke with KTEP’s Angela Kocherga about the border shutdown to nonessential traffic in response to the pandemic, and the rapid deportation of migrant children detained in hotels on the border.

Credit Verónica G. Cárdenas for Texas Public Radio

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz Talks Border Wall, November Election And Travel Restrictions

Laredo has been a target of President Trump’s push for border wall construction in South Texas for more than a year.

This summer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced two contracts for wall construction in the area. A coalition of residents, landowners and city leaders has been pushing back on the agency's efforts.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz published a letter in the Laredo Morning Times last month calling for Laredo to work with the Department of Homeland Security. He told TPR’s María Méndez he’d like Laredo to become a major DHS hub, regardless of whether President Trump is re-elected in November.

Credit Reynaldo Leaños Jr. | Texas Public Radio
Veterans are buried in the Eli Jackson Cemetery, where border wall construction is happening 20 feet away.

Border Wall Creeps Up On Historic Cemetery With Ties To Underground Railroad

Ahead of the November election, President Trump’s administration said it is racing to build 10 miles of border wall a week. Many of those projects along the Texas-Mexico border have been met with controversy, including one next to a historic cemetery in the Rio Grande Valley.

Construction has been temporarily halted as of Sept. 16. State District Judge Israel Ramon Jr. signed an injunction ordering Southwest Valley Constructors Co. to stop their work near the Eli Jackson cemetery until the next hearing, which is set for Sept. 29.

TPR’s Reynaldo Leanos Jr. spoke with South Texans who have loved ones buried at the cemetery and the ongoing battle to stop construction of the barrier.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1 and Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren