Cicadas buzz and heavy equipment rumbles and beeps before it lowers 30-foot-tall (48-kilometer-tall) sections of fence into the dirt. “Ahí está!” — “There it is!” — a Spanish-speaking member of the crew says as the men straighten the sections into the ground. Nearby, workers pull dates from palm trees, not far from the cotton fields that cars pass on the drive to the border.
This 5-mile (8-kilometer) section of fencing is where President
The president and his administration said this week that they plan on building between 450 and 500 miles (724 and 806 kilometers) of fencing along the nearly 2,000-mile (3,218-kilometer) border by the end of 2020, an ambitious undertaking funded by billions of defense dollars that had been earmarked for things like military base schools, target ranges and maintenance facilities.
Two other Pentagon-funded construction projects in
The Trump administration says the wall — along with more surveillance technology, agents and lighting — is key to keeping out people who cross illegally.
Critics say a wall is useless when most of those apprehended turn themselves in to
It comes amid a steep increase since last year in the number of migrant families who cross the border illegally in the
So far this year,
It spent just under
The drop is largely due to the Mexican government’s efforts to stop migrants from heading north after Trump threatened tariffs earlier this year to force
The number of people apprehended along the southern border fell by 61 percent between this year’s high point in May and the end of August. In
“Historically this has been a huge crossing point for both vehicles as well as family units and unaccompanied alien children during the crisis that we’ve seen in the past couple of months,”
He’s seen barriers evolve from easily collapsible landing mats installed by agents and the
Manjarrez says tall border fencing is crucial in some areas and less helpful in others, like remote stretches of desert where shorter barriers and more technology like ground sensors would suffice.
“One form doesn’t fit in all areas, and so the fence itself is not the one solution. It’s a combination of many things,” Manjarrez said.
The ease of construction varies by place and depends on things like water, Manjarrez said, adding that just because a plot of land is flat “doesn’t mean it’s not complex.”
He said building 450 to 500 miles (724 and 806 kilometers) of fence by the end of next year would be tough if that figure doesn’t include sections of the wall that have been built recently.
“As it stands now, contractors are building pretty fast,” Manjarrez said. The real question is whether the government needs to build that much fencing, he said.
The Trump administration may face those issues along with lawsuits from landowners who aren’t giving up their property so easily and environmentalists who say the barriers stop animals from migrating and can cut off water resources.
The Tohono O’odham tribe in