South Texas Private Border Could Collapse, Government Hides Report Warning

A private border wall built along the Rio Grande in South Texas could collapse during severe flooding, but the government tried to keep it hidden for more than a year. Arcadis, a global engineering firm, confirms the previous reporting from ProPublica and The Texas Tribune.

Does Not Meet Building Code and Standards

The federal government expects to reach an agreement with builder Fisher Industries in May. However, the government is already aware of the structural issues with the border fencing before the settlement. Still, they prefer to keep this information from the public for more than a year.

Because the fence would slide and overturn during significant flooding, and it begins to become unsteady during much smaller and more frequent floods, heavy flooding could cause the border to collapse.

The border fencing has a much shallower foundation than federal border barriers. It also has a weak foundation that does not meet the basic international building code and industry standards, a source posted. 

Adriana E. Martinez, a geomorphologist and professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, doubted how much more proof the state and federal governments needed.

Destroying Reports 

Arcadis, a global engineering firm, produced the 404-page report, supporting the previous reports from ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. As part of the settlement, federal officials ordered Fisher Industries and its subsidiaries to destroy all copies of the Arcadis report.

Arcadis referred questions about its evaluations to the Department of Justice, which represented the IBWC in the lawsuit, claiming the fence violated a treaty with Mexico requiring both countries to authorize any development that could impact the international boundary.

A DOJ spokesperson declined to respond to particular questions about the settlement or why the government opposed the report’s release, according to the Texas Tribune report. 

Fisher Industries lawyer,  Mark Courtois disagrees with Arcadis’ report because the construction fence was built three years ago and they are confident in its design and construction.