Work crews from Construction-Rent-A-Fence of Thrall, Texas, broke ground this week on a 10-foot border fence that will run 71 miles along the southern end of the UT-Brownsville campus.
Tom Ford, president of the company, said only trenching for the new fence has been completed. The project will likely not move forward for another two weeks because of heavy rain in the area.
Last week, contractors removed an existing fence from sites where the new fence will be installed, and surveyors worked to decide on specifications for the fence.
Ford said that without the existing fence in place, there is no physical barrier for security purposes on the southern end of campus, just north of the universitys golf course. While the fence is constructed, the area will be heavily patrolled by border agents, Ford said.
Ford described working on the border fence as really just another job.
The federally mandated deadline for the construction of the fence is Dec. 31. Ford could not provide a timeline for its completion before that date but said he believes they will finish.
The agreement reached between the Department of Homeland Security and UT-Brownsville in August allowed the university to avoid the installation of a new physical barrier on the campus and instead enhance an existing fence to a standard height of 10 feet.
Another change from original Homeland Security plans allowed managers of the universitys golf course to keep an access gate open 24 hours a day.
The reason is that the university and the UT System down here is spending moneys on high-tech surveillance cameras that are going to be available, said Bobby Lucio, the UT-Brownsville golf coach and course owner.
Lucio said he is receiving positive feedback from customers many from out of state who were concerned before that the fence would make the golf course inaccessible. Some golfers had expressed concerns that they would have to present a passport to access the golf course.
My customers, and the whole general public and the e-mails Ive been getting from our members from up north now they have a more positive feeling about whats going on, Lucio said.