Cuellar, Starr County officials hold border security roundtable

April 18, 2017 GMT

RIO GRANDE CITY — Under pending escalation of border security, which President Donald Trump called for throughout his campaign and presidency, local officials throughout Starr County were given the opportunity to voice their concerns.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, joined Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector Chief Manuel Padilla Jr. and StarrCounty officials, including Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, mayors and business leaders, for a roundtable discussion on border security.

“We want to make sure that we leave the decision as to how we provide border security, with the local input, to these men right here,” Cuellar said referring to the Border Patrol agents. “To make sure that they make the decisions and not some Washington politician up there.”

The event, hosted by Cuellar and the Starr County Industrial Foundation, was the first of a series to be held quarterly.

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The discussions, called SCIF Talks, will feature different speakers and address mobility, economic development, higher education, infrastructure and border security.

Noel Benavidez, treasurer of the Industrial Foundation who owns land in Roma, said he received a notice of condemnation from the government in 2008. He said he received another letter in February this year reiterating the government’s intent to utilize the property.

“There was really no communication,” he said about the condemnation process almost 10 years ago. “They never did come down and talk to any of us, the property owners.”

Benavidez’s 150-acre property, which was given to his wife’s family through a Spanish land grant in 1767, sits on the river.

He said that besides believing a border wall to be unnecessary, he said it would harm the ecosystem there.

“We’ve got all kinds of birds in there, we’ve got bobcats, we’ve got squirrels, we’ve got beautiful butterflies that come in here,” he said.

“ How are those animals going to get water, how are they going to migrate how are they going to move?”

A more complete version of this story is at www.myBrownsvilleHerald.com