What is the cost of maintenance on the existing border fence?
Although the request for $5.7 billion of funding for the border wall remains on hold, the Border Patrol is weighing in on the cost of maintaining the existing border fence and how it has helped them.
The existing fencing in the Valley stretches 55 miles long and built between 2008-2010 under the Secure Fence Act of 2006. There is about 35 miles of steel wall in Cameron County and 20 miles of levee wall in Hidalgo County.
Levee walls are made up of both concrete and steel which serves as a dual purpose, security and flood protection.
"Usually, whenever they construct a border wall, they construct it in segments,” said Border Patrol Special Operations Supervisor, Jason Montemayor of the RGV Sector Wall Project Delivery Team. “They don't do it all at the same time, they break it down into segments and usually it takes them about a year to finish a complete segment."
Border Patrol Agents, like Robert Rodriguez, said the existing fence is one of the elements that have been helpful in achieving operational control of the border.
"Prior to having the wall and the remote video surveillance system, it was very common to see a group anywhere from 30, 40 to 50 at a time just rushing across the levee,” said Rodriguez. “There was a levee system, but there was nothing that was slowing them down."
Preserving the entire fence cost about $357,000 a year with a government contractor that performs routine maintenance.
"That is done on a quarterly basis, it's also done on a need to need basis,” said Montemayor. “If there's some type of vegetation control or something that needs to be done or some damage that's done to it, they can respond immediately."
The steel fence in Cameron County has been around the longest, for nearly 10 years, but Agent Montemayor said the agency has no need or plans of the existing fence.