As critics cast doubt on whether President Trump’s proposed wall will curtail illegal immigration, the recent success of a barrier built in Arizona suggests otherwise, according to a retired border officer.
A wall built on the southern border near Yuma, Arizona, cut illegal crossings from Mexico into the United States by 94 percent, according to Senate testimony by the former Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol Ronald Colburn, which was previewed by the Washington Examiner.
In his opening statement during the hearing, committee Chairman Ron Johnson R (WI) outlined the importance of the wall and that it is needed to gain control over the southern border.
“As [Homeland Security] Secretary Kelly testified to the committee in January, ‘the number one threat to the nation is that we do not have control of our borders. Without control, every other kind of threat—drugs, illegal migrants, counterfeit manufactured goods and pharmaceuticals, diseases, terrorists, and the list goes on—can enter at will, and does,” said Johnson.
Colburn proceeded to give an account of the effect that the barrier near Yuma had on illegal crossings.
“Violent bandit activity went from the record 200 attacks and over 1,800 victims the year before, to zero, after fence. The number of violent assaults on Border Patrol Agents also declined drastically,” said Coburn.
The construction of the border barrier brought known drive-throughs, “where smugglers load up vehicles with their contraband of drugs and people and simply drive across the open,” from 2,706 instances down to six. Arrests made by Yuma Sector Border Patrol Agents of went from 138,000 before the wall, to 8,363 after the wall.
The former Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, David Aguilar, also prepared testimony for the hearing.
Aguilar outlined several issues that could present problems for the border wall, including: federally endangered species; lands set aside to protect wildlife; privately property where eminent domain may need to be used, and a small Native American nation near the border.
Despite these potential hurdles, Aguilar believes that a barrier on the southern border in essential:
The above noted issues will have to be taken into consideration. But it is important to note that there is nothing more destructive to environmentally sensitive land and quiet communities than the uncontrolled illegal flow of people, vehicles, smugglers, and criminal organizations. The placement of fences and deterrent infrastructure in previously uncontrolled parts of the border have actually allowed for the rejuvenation of areas that had previously been devastated due to heavy illegal pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Fences, barriers, and walls have been instrumental to the Border Patrol’s successes on the border… I believe walls, fences, and border infrastructure will definitely be a part of what the Border Patrol will be identifying as current requirements.”
Bids “on the first design contracts,” were due from companies looking to work on the border wall on April 4, Breitbart News reported.
Ryan Saavedra is a contributor for Breitbart Texas and can be found on Twitter at @RealSaavedra.