One of the many contentious battles that President Trump has had to fight was the battle to erect a border wall. A large part of that wall has been built, and there are consequences. Today The Washington Examiner posted an article about some of the impact of that wall.
The article reports:
Border Patrol agents who work in the Pacific Ocean off the southern coast of California saw a dramatic increase in the number of arrests made over the past 12 months, an indication that the addition of new border wall in the region since 2017 is prompting smugglers to find new ways to move people and drugs into the United States.
“Over the past year, within 2020, we’ve had a record number of marine interdictions, including pangas [small, fast boats], jet skis, swimmers, and paddle boaters,” Border Patrol San Diego Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke told the Washington Examiner during a land and sea tour. “The wall structure itself is solidifying the land border, and it’s forcing the smugglers to come out into the maritime environment.”
Agents, using jet skis and boats to patrol the 20-mile stretch from Chula Vista at the border up past downtown San Diego, made 302 interdictions in fiscal 2020, which ran from Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, compared to 195 the previous year and 88 in 2015. One such incident resulted in the seizure of a small boat that was loaded with more than 3,000 pounds of methamphetamine.
Arrests of illegal immigrants and smugglers jumped 92% from 662 in 2019 to 1,271 in 2020. Comparatively, 219 people were arrested in 2015.
The article concludes:
Border Patrol’s San Diego region has seen 53 miles of border wall added to its 60-mile area of responsibility, including the duplicate fencing. A small portion of the new wall was completed with funding from the final year of the Obama administration, but most was funded in federal budgets passed during the Trump administration. The foundation of the double-layer fencing goes up to 10 feet below the ground, preventing people from digging shallow tunnels into the U.S., as was possible with the Clinton-era metal scraps. It stretches from 18 feet to 30 feet tall and is comprised of steel fence posts filled with concrete and rebar. It starts at the coast and goes up into the mountains in Otay Mesa, California, significantly further than the scrap metal that was taken out. Construction teams are in the process of completing the wall over the mountains, a seemingly impossible task for how steep the terrain is here.
Agents in San Diego said this new wall and the technology that comes with it will be hard to get past for most people and will funnel others to areas where agents are present because they have been freed up to focus on less secure areas as a result of the new wall. Those who do attempt to climb over the wall will be better detected thanks to new cameras, sensors, radar systems, and underground fiber optic systems.
Border Patrol officials had expected smugglers to try new approaches, including taking to the water. Heitke said smugglers who do choose to go the boat route are being tracked, oftentimes by the cellphone they leave behind in a boat or when it is seized after they are arrested.
“The smuggler has a phone with them,” said Heitke. “We can dump the information on the phone and find the routes saying where they’re going, and we’re able to see an enormous range of travel, whether they go out 50 miles or 100 miles out, whether [they] go up 50 or 100 miles to land.”
How many drug overdoses have been prevented because President Trump fought Congress to build a wall?