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Border wall work begins in Rio Grande Valley, threatens preserve

Posted at 8:57 AM, Feb 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-08 10:00:28-05

Stakes in the ground deep inside the National Butterfly Center mark the path of six miles of border wall approved by congress last year.  Except those stakes aren’t on the border.

We’re almost a mile and a half from the border,” said Lynn Pare.  “They think this fencing is going along the border; no, it’s not.  The border is in the middle of the river, and the river is a mile and a half away.”

1.2 miles to be exact.

In March of 2018, Congress approved $450 million for 33 miles of new border wall in Hidalgo and Starr counties.  The wall would feature 18 feet of concrete, topped by 18 foot steel bollards, for a total of 36 feet.

Once this segment of wall is built, about 70% of the Butterfly Center’s land will be behind it, along with a number of other things.

“Private property, public lands, farms, recreational areas, the Rio Grande River,” said Marianna Trevino Wright.

Trevino Wright is the Butterfly Center’s Executive Director.  She says despite being on the border, nobody tries to illegally cross at the Butterfly Center.  In fact, the center regularly hosts children’s groups, including school field trips and Girl Scout camp-outs.  Every child who attends an event must bring a waiver signed by a parent.

“If there were really an invasion, a crisis, a clear and present threat, who in their right mind would do that?” asked Trevino Wright.

That’s because here, the border is peaceful.

“We’re not the wild, wild west down here, it’s perfectly safe,” said Pare.

Most people living near the border in the Rio Grande Valley agree.  They believe the best way to combat illegal immigration is with Customs and Border Patrol agents, not a wall.