Big Bend

Pete Gallego has raised questions as to where Rep. Will Hurd stands on the Big Bend National Park, and is claiming that Will Hurd is in favor building 200 miles of road in the park. These attacks are FALSE.

It is embarrassing that Former Congressman Gallego, a man that represented West Texas doesn't even know the difference between Big Bend National Park and the Big Bend Sector for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. I would think that a "West Texan" such as Pete would know the distinction of the park, which is in TX and the Big Bend Sector, which encompasses the entire state of Oklahoma and parts of Texas. Ultimately, Pete Gallego is "Pants on Fire" here. The bill would not authorize hundreds of miles of roads through the park or threaten natural habitats.

Please read below for more information on Big Bend and H.R. 399:

H.R.399, the Secure Our Borders First Act, was first introduced to the House by Representative Michael McCaul of Texas on January 16, 2015 in an effort for DHS Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to gain a better understanding of the overall number of illegal crossings and address ongoing gaps in border security, defined as operational control. This legislation then provides the adequate resources and authorities to address these needs in a flexible sector by sector approach. 

The CBP “Big Bend Sector” referenced in the bill is not the same as the Park. The Big Bend Sector, formerly known as the Marfa Sector, is composed of 77 Texas counties and the entire State of Oklahoma (78 counties). Please see attached graphic of the Big Bend Sector.  The operational area of the Sector is 165,154 square miles and includes 510 miles of border, almost one-quarter of the country's entire Southwest Border. The park shares just 118 of these miles.

What H.R.399 does do:

Authorizes $1 billion each year from fiscal year 2016 through 2025 to increase surveillance and detection activities along the nation’s southern, northern, and maritime borders
Specifies the construction of necessary infrastructure and leverages new technologies that are more effective and less invasive than traditional methods  
Looks at the threats and terrain, and matches the best capabilities to achieve operational control of the border section-by-section as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach. 

What H.R.399 does NOT do:

-Build hundreds of miles of roads through Big Bend National Park
-Threaten natural habitats
-Negatively affect tourism

Again, the Big Bend Sector of the border described in H.R.399 covers significantly more area than the Park itself. The bill mandates 192 miles of new roads and 6 miles of fencing within the sector and allows CBP to access federal land should they sit fit, but does not require this new infrastructure to be built in the park. In fact, given the existing infrastructure already supporting the park itself, it is unlikely that significant improvements would need to be made. Rather the bulk would likely be made in the other 392 miles of the sector, which have little existing infrastructure.