The United States and Mexico are old allies that share a 1950-mile border. The line stretches from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, running through 1200 miles of Texas’ southern frontier.
Recent concerns over immigration, smuggling, cartel violence, and terrorist risk, have stoked support for tighter border controls. These controls have included increased patrols by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and National Guard soldiers, as well as more monitoring by cameras, radar, infrared sensors, drones, and thermal imaging devices.
However, the new physical barriers along the border make up the most obvious part of these stronger defenses. More than 600 miles of beefed-up fences, roads and lights have been installed along the U.S./Mexico boundary, with over 110 miles of new and stronger fencing along the Texas segment of the border.
The border program has triggered its share of controversy. Some of the debate has spilled over into environmental concerns, for the fences run through protected lands and sensitive habitat. The accompanying map shows how the border fence passes near and through many sanctuaries that were bought by federal and state agencies as well as non-profit conservation groups in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Schwelling, Steve. 2012. GIS Staff, Texas Parks and Wildlife. Personal communication. November and December 2012.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 2008. Environmental Stewardship Plan for the Construction, Operation, and Maintenance of Tactical Infrastructure, U.S. Border Patrol, Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Washington, D.C.
Abhat, Divya. 2011. “Fenced Out: Wildlife Impacts of the U.S. – Mexico Border Fence” The Wildlife Professional. The Wildlife Society. Winter 2011.
Flesch, A.D., C.W. Epps, J.W. Cain, M. Clark, P.R. Krausman, J.R. Morgart. 2010. “Potential Effects of the United States – Mexico Border Fence on Wildlife.” Conservation Biology, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 171-181, February 2010.
McCorkle, Rob. 2011. “Wildlife and the Wall: What is the Impact of the Border Fence on Texas Animals?” Texas Parks and Wildlife. August 2011.