AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Board of Regents today (Aug. 14) authorized up to $1 million to help construct a border fence along the UT Brownsville/Texas Southmost College campus as part of a recent agreement with the federal government.
The money, which will come from the UT System’s Intermediate Term Fund, will be used to construct a 10-foot-tall fence along a portion of the campus to help enhance campus security and stem illegal immigration into the United States. In the settlement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the UTB/TSC and UT System agreed to augment a current fence in place on the campus – and outfit it with high-tech monitoring devices – by Dec. 31.
“On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the many individuals who worked so diligently to find a compromise outcome that would satisfy the responsibilities of both UT Brownsville/Texas Southmost College and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security related to the construction of the proposed border fence,” Regents’ Chairman H. Scott Caven, Jr. , said.
The settlement, reached July 31, ended all court proceedings between the university and Homeland Security/U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which had sought to condemn portions of the university and to erect a larger barrier. As part of the settlement, DHS/CBP agreed to end condemnation actions against UTB/TSC, effectively allowing the institution to retain ownership over all its property.
On Tuesday (Aug. 5), UTB/TSC officials defined the construction schedule for the fence with a deadline of 10 days to design what university officials call a “friendly fence.”
The agreement allows UTB/TSC to add facilities on the land and federal officials from both agencies have indicated they would support the university’s long-term efforts to move and enhance a flood-control levee to the edge of the Rio Grande.
UTB/TSC and DHS/CBP will also collaborate in the establishment of a center to study border issues including security. It would examine, among other elements, the use of technology for securing the border. The southern perimeter of the UTB/TSC campus will be part of a laboratory for testing new technology and infrastructure combinations.