FOX news RGV
September 4, 2013
Born and raised in Starr county, Mayor Ruben Villareal has seen Rio Grande City flow along immigration tides.
But a current issue affects a staple to his city.
“This type of construction is a huge building block of what this city needs to become,” says Mayor Ruben Villareal, Rio Grande City, TX.
Mayor Villareal is talking about a treatment plant that relies on the Rio Grande to supply 700 gallons of water a day to the city.
“Is this different than other cities, this pump? We are one of two pump stations in the entire Rio Grande Valley that I know about that actually draw water straight from the Rio Grande,” says Villareal.
The current senate immigration reform bill calls for around 700 miles of border fencing. Half of which is already in place.
Up until now Starr County has been free of this, but if passed, 18-foot steel columns erected along the banks of this section of the Rio Grande is a very possible reality. As well as a major concern.
“This isn’t a curveball; this is more of a sinker or knuckle ball. When we made the design for this project it was about six years ago, and the idea of having a border fence was so farfetched. It would be like me saying, ‘we’re going to take a trip to the moon and back,” says Villareal.
“With the Rio Grande about a half mile away, the city relies on several irrigation pathways like this to prevent flooding, but mayor Villareal says that with the border fence wedged in between pathways like this and the river, a major concern is that fence becoming a costly obstacle,”
“All of Rio Grande city’s water, it kind of slopes down, everything feeds towards the river. My running and constant worry is that you’ll have some sort of blockage against that fence, because all it is pipes,” adds Villareal.
“The hydraulic modeling that was performed for the proposed fence segments assumed some blockage due to debris build-up. However, CBP contends that from a practical perspective the likelihood of occurrence is small.”
In response, customs and border protection acknowledged the risk for debris build-up but say “the likelihood of occurrence is small.”
“Historically, border fencing installed within the Rio Grande river floodplain has had no debris build-up issues or adversely impacted the floodwaters during a flooding event.” -CBP southwest border
That border fencing currently in place has not, “adversely impacted floodwaters during a flooding event.” But mayor Villareal doesn’t agree with facts based on a terrain that is ever-changing.
“Rivers meander, constantly, the bank that you see here not too long ago was probably about 100 yards further north of us.”
Much like the Rio Grande that hugs south Texas, immigration reform is a constant evolution.
This mayor believes a solution with lasting power needs to have its eyes set on tomorrow.
“I have problems when people tell me that an antiquated, something from the 12th century, that has been tried before all over the world, and has failed throughout the world as well.”
Mayor Villareal has had several talks with senator john Cornyn about this issue. The senator’s office reached out to Fox 2, saying “Sen. Cornyn offered an amendment to the Gang of 8 bill that would require DHS to consult with local leaders before any plans for fencing moved forward.”
He has offered an amendment of the grand of 8 bill that would require department of homeland security to consult with local leaders before any plans for fencing moved forward.
While that was not ultimately adopted in the Senate bill, Sen. Cornyn will continue to work with his colleagues to ensure that his amendment is part of any border security legislation that is considered this Congress.”
That while it was not adopted he will continue to endure that his amendment is part of an border security legislation that is considered.
Those talks will continue tomorrow. Senator Cornyn will be in the Rio Grande Valley, meeting with local officials, including mayor Villareal, about a smarter border strategy.