- President Trump is planning to declare his border wall a success this week – but campaigners say some areas are now less secure than before.
- In rugged areas of eastern Arizona, contractors have yet to build a wall.
- But they have blasted ravines to make way for it, and built roads to get their machines there, which have opened new routes for people.
- One observer said that dozens of apprehensions are now being made where before it was too rugged to go.
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President Donald Trump is headed to Texas on Tuesday to claim victory in his years-long attempt to construct a border wall with Mexico.
Trump plans to celebrate 450 miles of new wall â€” a far cry from fortifying the entire 1,900-mile border, but still a substantial figure.
However, according to an investigation by Insider, the construction work has in places achieved the opposite of what was intended, making the border less secure and sparking attempted crossings where once there were none.
Insider spoke with sources based along the border in Arizona.
Arizona’s border includes harsh mountainside, difficult to cross and not previously places where many people attempted unauthorised entry. The construction work, they said, changed this.
The sources explained that the border is weaker after contractors blasted new ravines through mountains to make way for the still-unbuilt wall, and built access roads for their heavy machinery.
This has made an easy path where before there was none, they said.
John Darwin Kurc, a photographer and anti-wall activist, said he now sees border agents intercept crossings “all the time” in places that once were quiet.
He particularly noted the mountainous Guadalupe Canyon area some 30 miles west of Douglas, Arizona, where Mexico’s Highway 2 comes near the boundary with the US. This image from Customs and Border Protections map shows the gap:
The Trump administration plan is to eventually block these routes with the wall. But there is no wall in these areas yet, and President-elect Biden had promised to stop construction when he takes office, leaving only the new gaps.
Kurc on Monday posted a video from one of the ravines, where he had been able to walk unimpeded.
There, Trump’s wall reaches the foot of the mountain. Contractors have got as far as blasting a deep ravine through the mountain for the wall to pass through. But, with little chance of new wall progressing into the ravine, someone on foot can walk from one country to the other.
Another source, environmental campaigner Laiken Jordahl, told Insider: “The pure idiocy of this administration will likely end up facilitating new cross-border smuggling routes in places that were once so rugged nobody crossed.”
In exchanges with Insider, CBP said that its procedure is to block off the newly-built access roads with the wall, destroy them, or turn them into patrol roads for its own use.
However, officials declined to provide details on whether this has been done.
The agency’s position on wall construction is that the project is due to continue as scheduled until a new administration tells it otherwise.