Texas Border County, Feds in Feud Over Security Costs

Texas Border County, Feds in Feud Over Security Costs

"Lauded last year as a model of cooperation and a means to boost Texas’ robust trade relationship with Mexico, a rail project here in the Rio Grande Valley has hit a snag over the relocation of an X-ray machine. And if Cameron County and U.S. Customs and Border Protection remain at an impasse, the opening of the Brownsville West Rail Bypass International Bridge — the first new rail bridge to connect the countries in more than a century — could face a months-long delay, preventing an expansion at a crucial land port. The Vehicle and Cargo Imaging System, which scans rail cars for narcotics, illicit cash and other contraband, needs to be moved to the new site from Brownsville, about seven miles away. Exchanges between local and federal officials indicate that neither side is willing to finance that project, which county officials said would cost about $1.5 million. It has added a twist in the debate over who is responsible for border security, and county officials worry the issue will delay the rail line’s opening. ... Pete Sepulveda, the Cameron County administrator, said Customs and Border Protection should pay for the relocation because its mission is to protect the homeland. “That equipment is strictly used by CBP,” he said. “The county will never use that piece of equipment.” The Port of Brownsville is part of the Laredo Customs District, which trades more with Mexico than any other port in the country. Through July this year, more than $138.6 billion in trade passed through the trade zone, according to WorldCity, which uses census information to track trade data. Federal officials say the State Department’s presidential permit for the rail bridge makes it clear that the onus to move the machine is on the county." - Texas Tribune, Oct. 21, 2013.