Laredo’s Rep. Henry Cuellar on Friday announced a spate of exceptions to the border wall that have been included in the Department of Homeland Security’s appropriations bill for next fiscal year.
Along with sites that had previously been excluded from border wall construction in past legislation, such as the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge and historic cemeteries, Cuellar has now added language that would protect any site on the National Register of Historic Places; Sacred Heart Children’s Home; the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge; and property within one mile of historic sites along the Los Caminos del Rio Heritage Corridor.
Although these bills have been adopted by the House Appropriations Committee, they still need to be approved by the full House of Representatives and Republican-held Senate before they become law. And Democrats’ intentions to strip funding from border wall construction in years past have fallen apart in the days before the final votes.
Still, stakeholders in Laredo, San Ygnacio and Zapata expressed hope regarding these protected areas, which are more general and expansive, and could therefore include a wide range of properties.
The Los Caminos del Rio Heritage Corridor, for example, spans all of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Zapata and Webb counties. Historic sites within this area, which are not defined, could be wide-ranging, noted Attorney Ricardo De Anda, who is fighting the border wall as an affected landowner and attorney.
“Then you’ve got substantial relief,” he said.
And sites under the National Register of Historic Places include some of the treasures of Webb and Zapata County, including the Barrio Azteca Historic District, the Treviño Uribe Rancho, the San Ygnacio Historic District and Fort McIntosh.
Laredo College President Ricardo Solis noted that the school’s entire campus is Fort McIntosh, which dates back to the 1840s. He added that the school site is also an environmental sanctuary, a tourist destination and hiking spot.
Article was originally published on July 18, 2020.