The Negative Externalities of the U.S. - Mexico Border Wall According to Local Public Officials in Rio Grande Valley, Texas: A Descriptive Study
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Public infrastructure projects cause unintended consequence. The U.S. – Mexico border wall is a public security infrastructure project, which has caused many consequences for communities in Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Research has repeatedly illustrated the myriad of consequences the construction of roads and highways systems on a particular area, which is very similar to the construction of a border fence. The purpose of this research is to describe the negative externalities of the U.S. - Mexico border wall according to local public officials in Rio Grande Valley, Texas. The methodology for this study encompasses structured, open-ended, indepth interviews with eight local public officials in Rio Grande Valley, Texas. The interviews focused directly on the impact of the construction of the border fence on the Rio Grande Valley and each participant’s specific jurisdiction. This study ascertains that cities and counties in the Rio Grande Valley were impacted by the construction of the border wall, some areas negatively and others positively, or in some cases a combination of both positive and negative impacts. Impacts varied greatly on the location of the respondent. Overall, local public officials from the Rio Grande Valley experienced negative impacts economically, environmentally and socially. These impacts are attributable to the construction of the public infrastructure security project mandated by congress in the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Local public officials in Hidalgo County are unique in that they were able to compromise with the Department of Homeland Security and build a new fortified levee. The construction of the fortified levee came at a time when their levee system was in the process of being de-certified. Based upon these findings, recommendations were made to guide local public officials through the process to curb negative externalities.