Rep. Vela against more wall funding in border security bill

BROWNSVILLE — After news broke Monday evening that Republicans and Democrats have reached a possible deal that would bring new border barriers to the Rio Grande Valley, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, said it’s impossible to say precisely where any new infrastructure will be located.

“We won’t know precisely until they give us a final product. But I vehemently oppose whatever it is. Best guess is it fills in gaps in Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr,” Vela said in an email. “We submitted language to spare 12 miles from Boca Chica beach towards Brownsville along Lower Rio Grande Valley Refuge but remains to be seen. No matter where the fencing is I am an absolute NO.”

The Associated Press reported that congressional negotiators reached a tentative agreement to fund the Department of Homeland Security for nearly $1.4 billion that would include financing for 55 miles of new border fencing in the Rio Grande Valley.

Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Brownsville, announced that he included language that would protect SpaceX, the National Butterfly Center, La Lomita Historical Park, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge from new border barrier construction.

It’s unclear whether the tentative agreement includes those protections.

President Donald Trump, who held a campaign rally in El Paso Monday night, had previously called for $5.7 billion for the construction of 215 miles of border wall.

CBP has said the Rio Grande Valley Sector is an area of high illegal activity and says more border wall is needed as a persistent impediment to transnational criminal organizations. CBP has also said that it is taking steps to expeditiously plan, design and construct a physical wall in an effort to implement Trump’s executive order directing CBP to build a wall along the southwest border.

If the tentative deal is passed by both chambers of Congress, it would head to Trump’s desk. On Tuesday, the president said he was not happy with the proposal, but did say he did not and would not accept another government shutdown, the Washington Post reported.