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Thursday, August 14, 2008

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Regents Praise Parties for Negotiating Settlement, Authorize $1 Million for Border Fence

AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Board of Regents today (Aug. 14) authorized up to $1 million to help construct a border fence along the UT Brownsville/Texas Southmost College campus as part of a recent agreement with the federal government.

The money, which will come from the UT System’s Intermediate Term Fund, will be used to construct a 10-foot-tall fence along a portion of the campus to help enhance campus security and stem illegal immigration into the United States. In the settlement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the UTB/TSC and UT System agreed to augment a current fence in place on the campus – and outfit it with high-tech monitoring devices – by Dec. 31.

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the many individuals who worked so diligently to find a compromise outcome that would satisfy the responsibilities of both UT Brownsville/Texas Southmost College and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security related to the construction of the proposed border fence,” Regents’ Chairman H. Scott Caven, Jr., said.

The settlement, reached July 31, ended all court proceedings between the university and Homeland Security/U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which had sought to condemn portions of the university and to erect a larger barrier. As part of the settlement, DHS/CBP agreed to end condemnation actions against UTB/TSC, effectively allowing the institution to retain ownership over all its property.

On Tuesday (Aug. 5), UTB/TSC officials defined the construction schedule for the fence with a deadline of 10 days to design what university officials call a “friendly fence.” 

The agreement allows UTB/TSC to add facilities on the land and federal officials from both agencies have indicated they would support the university’s long-term efforts to move and enhance a flood-control levee to the edge of the Rio Grande.

UTB/TSC and DHS/CBP will also collaborate in the establishment of a center to study border issues including security. It would examine, among other elements, the use of technology for securing the border. The southern perimeter of the UTB/TSC campus will be part of a laboratory for testing new technology and infrastructure combinations.

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