July 18, 2008



12:00 AM CDT on Friday, July 18, 2008
The Associated Press

McALLEN, Texas – About 14 miles of the 70 miles of border fencing planned for the lower Rio Grande Valley would be built in the floodplain and has yet to be approved by the commission governing the international boundary.

The "movable" fence proposed by the Department of Homeland Security would be concrete jersey barriers topped with steel fencing. The International Boundary and Water Commission is reviewing the proposal to make sure the fence does not violate treaties with Mexico and could be moved away from the river before it floods.

Along most of the Rio Grande, the fencing intended to help Border Patrol get a handle on illegal smuggling and immigration will run along the levees that keep the twisting river in check.

But in three areas – Roma and Rio Grande City in Starr County and Los Ebanos in Hidalgo County – where communities abut the river, the department plans the movable fencing.

A 1970 treaty called on both countries to prohibit the building of anything that "may cause deflection or obstruction of the normal flow of the river or of its flood flows."

The commission's engineers are reviewing the proposal. If they determine it does not violate the treaty, they will brief their Mexican counterparts, who will review it and then respond.

If there is disagreement, the commission will attempt to settle it. If that fails, the issue could move to the U.S. State Department to try to reach a settlement through diplomatic channels.

The Associated Press

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