border | KERA News


Read a version of this story in Spanish.

As the White House pushes Congress to fund President Trump's U.S.-Mexico border wall, a new wrinkle has emerged that could stymie parts of the massive project.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

Only about half of Texans oppose “sanctuary” policies in which law enforcement or other local authorities don’t report undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.

By the time bidding closed Tuesday, there was no lack of companies competing to build the wall President Trump has proposed for the border between the U.S. and Mexico. In fact, by The Associated Press' count, upwards of 200 organizations had expressed interest in designing and building it for Customs and Border Protection.

Private contractors seeking to get in on the ground floor for construction of President Trump's long promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border had until Tuesday to submit their bids for prototype designs.

At least 200 companies have expressed in interest in the project, but not all were expected to submit bids. Customs and Border Protection called for proposals for the border wall in March.

Depending on where you sit, the U.S.-Mexico border is:

a) a dangerous frontier that allows drug traffickers and illegal immigrants to cross freely into the U.S.


b) a familiar frontier that is navigated as a regular part of everyday life.

For people who live along the border in the twinned cities of Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Mexico, it's nearly always the latter.

The sister cities are known collectively as Ambos Nogales, or "Both Nogales."

From Texas Standard:

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump famously criticized NAFTA as the “worst trade deal ever signed in this country.” President Trump is now taking a somewhat softer line on NAFTA. A draft letter from the White House emerged this week that indicates the administration wants to re-negotiate the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, leaving some provisions in place, while seeking changes to others. The document contains few details, but it does indicate that the president would like the ability to impose tariffs on some imported products. Re-opening NAFTA negotiations would require Congressional approval.

Think about the avocados you mash for your Super Bowl guacamole, or the fresh tomatoes you enjoy in the winter. There's a good chance they came from Mexico.

Our southern neighbor is the United States' leading supplier of fresh produce, providing 70 percent of the fresh vegetables we import and more than 40 percent of our fresh fruit imports. That trade has boomed since NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement — was signed in 1994.

Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Imagine a kindler and gentler hand on the Texas-Mexico border where federal agents on patrol educate and welcome visitors to America. That happens as people from both sides of the Rio Grande meet at the center of a new, shared border checkpoint to play soccer or maybe watch movies near a farmers market.

Along a barren dirt road, Border Patrol agents spot a mother and son, carrying nothing as they walk along the river's edge. The sun beats down on them as the patrol car pulls up.

"Where are you from?" Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Marlene Castro asks the mother. "How much did you pay to get here?"

From Texas Standard:

After less then two months in office, the Trump administration can point to at least one statistic that may indicate the president is succeeding in his goal of stemming the tide immigration. From January to February, apprehensions at the Mexican border with the U.S. decreased by 40 percent.

The Department of Homeland Security released new data late Wednesday showing that illegal southern border crossings diminished in the opening weeks of the new Trump administration.

The new figures indicate "an unprecedented decline in traffic" in the month of February, according to a statement issued by Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

From Texas Standard:

The United States Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection unit says it will begin soliciting proposals from companies interested in constructing President Donald Trump's proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico divide.

The federal government posted a pre-solicitation this week and has already garnered hundreds of responses – dozens from Texas alone – for what promises to be one of the biggest contracts of any infrastructure project planned by the Trump administration.

President Trump wants to hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents and 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to enforce his executive orders on immigration.

It wont be easy.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was blunt when asked by a member of Congress about it. He said he will add to the ranks "as fast as we can."

But he quickly added, "we will not lower standards and we will not lower training." Kelly then said he didn't believe "we're going to get 10,000 and 5,000 on board within the next couple of years."

In June 2010, 15-year-old Sergio Hernandez and his friends were playing chicken at the U.S.-Mexico border, daring each other to run up and touch the tall border fence separating Juarez, Mexico, from El Paso, Texas.

At some point during their game, U.S. border patrol agent Jesus Mesa arrived on a bicycle. He detained one of the kids on the U.S. side while the others ran away. Hernandez hid behind a pillar beneath a bridge on the Mexican side of the border. A cellphone video shows the boy peeking out from behind the column, before Mesa shoots and kills him.

On Jan. 25, President Trump signed an executive order instructing construction to begin on a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Environmentalists and civil rights activists say the proposed wall on the southern border with Mexico is a threat to the environmental rights of the people who live on both sides of the border.

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump’s support of imposing a 20 percent tariff on all Mexican imports to the U.S. has some Texans running to the supermarket to stock up on Topo Chico and avocados. The proposal suggested on Thursday is designed by the Trump administration as leverage to get our southern neighbor to pay for a wall extending across the southern border.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is considering alternative ways to pay for the border wall, backtracking on the president's oft-repeated promise that Mexico would foot the bill.

A White House spokesman said one idea taking shape is to apply a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico, as well as other countries with which the U.S. has a trade deficit. That would effectively saddle U.S. consumers with a significant portion of the wall's cost, estimated at $15 billion or more.

Mexicans have reacted angrily to President Trump's executive order, which among many things directed the U.S. government to begin immediate construction of a border wall.

Mexican lawmakers are urging President Enrique Peña Nieto to cancel his scheduled visit to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 31.

Peña Nieto has not said whether he will cancel the meeting.

The Logistics of Building Trump's Border Wall

Jan 25, 2017

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday authorizing the building of a wall along the United States-Mexico border.

He told ABC News that morning that the U.S. will start building the wall “as soon as we can. As soon as we can physically do it. … I would say in months. Certainly, planning is starting immediately.”

From the start of his campaign, after he descended the golden escalator to give his announcement speech, Donald Trump promised to build a wall along the U.S.' Southern border. Now, Trump is taking the first steps toward keeping that promise, with an executive action that calls for building that wall.

In line with his campaign theme of tightening laws on immigration, that action will call for other measures, such as hiring more Border Patrol agents and expanding detention space.

Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

President Trump has signed two executive orders related to immigration and border security, moving ahead with his plans to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and to deport people who are in the country illegally.

Courtesy Michael Seifert

It’s just before the holidays in McAllen, a town of 130,000 on the U.S.-Mexico border. Basilisa Valdez sits in the kitchen at her sister’s house, waiting for relatives to arrive. Here, that means some come from across town, and some from Reynosa, just across the river in Mexico.

Click here to experience "The Wall: A Special Report from Texas Standard"

 The Texas Standard gets a lot of emails: story ideas, feedback - sometimes good, sometimes different. On occasion, we get a call to action.

Sherry V. Smith / Shutterstock

Forget Donald Trump's Great Wall.

The people who live in the bustling, fertile Rio Grande Valley, where the U.S. border meets the Gulf of Mexico, think a "virtual wall" of surveillance technology makes a lot more sense. It's already in wide use and expanding.

Todd Wiseman / The Texas Tribune

Reporters at the Texas Tribune are exploring border security and immigration -- two topics that affect nearly every part of Texas.  Jay Root is a reporter with the Texas Tribune and has reported several stories in the project, called Bordering on Insecurity.

Border Residents Weigh In On Walls And Community

Jul 20, 2016

One of the pillars of Donald Trump’s campaign has been his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. This idea has resonated with many Americans. Today on Think, journalist Alfredo Corchado told Krys Boyd about a recent poll of border residents that measured how they feel about the idea of a wall.


A border wall between the U.S.-Mexico border has been a major focus of Donald Trump’s campaign. However, a new poll suggests people living in border cities oppose that idea.

Texas Explores Flexing Legal Muscles On Immigration

Dec 17, 2015
Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

Crafted carefully, state laws can be written that would allow Texas to crack down on undocumented immigrants and illegal border crossers without running afoul of the U.S. Constitution, a state attorney told lawmakers recently.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday extended the deployment of National Guard troops at the Mexico border due to a spike in the number of unaccompanied minors entering the country.