‘Walls work,’ declares DHS head during visit to South Texas border

DONNA, Texas (Border Report) — The head of the Department of Homeland Security visited the new border wall going up south of Donna, Texas, on Thursday afternoon and declared after a tour that “walls work.”

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf also said that he “welcome all efforts to help secure the border as long as they’re done in concert with the men and women at the Border Patrol,” in reaction to a question by Border Report on land being cleared a few miles away by a private nonprofit advocacy group that has said it wants to build its own wall on private, river-front land.

Read a Border Report story on Wolf’s El Paso stop on Wednesday.

Read a Border Report story on a day with RGV Sector agents.

$26 million a mile

Wolf made the comments against the backdrop of a few erected panels of a new 18-foot-tall metal wall that is being built on federal land a half-mile from the Rio Grande in this largely agricultural community just a couple miles from the Donna International Bridge. The average cost per mile to build the wall is expected to be $26 million.

Construction workers operated heavy equipment and pounded away at the structure despite a stiff Gulf Coast wind on Thursday afternoon. Workers began clearing the land a few weeks ago and quickly laid the concrete foundation and have now put in the first metal bollard panels.

These are the first new border wall panels built in South Texas. And they will be followed by many more, Wolf promised.

A total of 110 miles of border wall is slated to be built in the RGV Sector, he said. That will add to the 83 new miles of border wall built on the Southwest border, so far, Wolf said. A total of 153 miles are currently in progress and he promised up to 500 miles of “new border wall” will be built by the end of 2020.

Wolf stipulated that these are “new border wall” sections; and he negated what he called were “misconceptions” by some in Washington, D.C., that the new panels don’t constitute “new” border walls.

Starr County is next

As she gave Wolf a tour of the construction site, Carmen Qualia, Border Patrol assistant chief patrol agent for the RGV Sector, told him that next week wall panels will begin going up to the east in Starr County, which has never before had any border wall.

Read a Border Report story on survey markers laid in Starr County.