YUMA, Ariz.—Top officials in the Department of Homeland Security visited southern Arizona on Friday to commemorate completion of 100 miles of new border wall.
Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf stopped by the U.S.-Mexico border near Yuma and delivered a speech in recognition of what he called a milestone: 100 miles of completed border wall since the beginning of the Trump administration. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls, and Border Patrol officials joined Wolf.
Wolf looked on as a plaque emblazoned with President Donald Trump’s name was welded onto a section of the wall.
“Today, as a milestone has been reached, a celebration is in order,” Wolf said. “Today I am proud to report that the Trump administration has now constructed 100 miles of new border wall system on the southern border. This is a milestone achievement for the president, the department, and more importantly for our country.”
In plain sight behind the acting homeland security secretary was newly built border wall that stood roughly 30 feet high and included anti-climbing plates. Adjacent to the new wall was the older—and much smaller—anti-vehicle barrier, which stood about waist-high. Much of the new border wall has replaced these small walls or dilapidated barriers.
Some critics have argued that the Trump administration hasn’t actually built much new wall, but is simply replacing old wall. The secretary pushed back against this narrative.
“One thing I want to emphasize: Every inch of the 100 miles that we have constructed is new border wall system. It’s not so-called ‘replacement’ wall as some of our critics claim,” Wolf said.
“It is new wall,” he said, arguing that one wouldn’t call completion of a five-bedroom house in place of a rundown shack a “replacement” house—one would call it a “new” house.
When asked what they need to make their jobs easier, Border Patrol officials everywhere tell him that they need a border wall, Wolf said.
The location of Yuma for the commemorative event held heavy symbolic value. The Republican mayor of the border town declared a state of emergency in April 2019 as local services were unable to cope with the sheer volume of illegal aliens arriving on a daily a basis.
However, Nicholls withdrew the state of emergency in December and directly credited the Trump administration with implementing directives that led to stabilization of the border crisis.
Illegal crossings have plummeted across the southern border in recent months.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that the month of December witnessed a total of 40,620 enforcement actions—the seventh straight month of declines in apprehensions. These numbers are a far cry from when the border crisis reached its peak in May, when officials saw more than 144,000 enforcement actions.
The Trump administration was given a major win late Wednesday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit overturned a lower court’s ruling, allowing the White House to use military funds to pay for border wall construction.
The administration ultimately wants to see over 400 miles of new wall built by the end of 2020, but court battles, opposition from Democratic lawmakers, and government red tape have slowed these efforts.
Wolf, for his part, hammered his position that physical barriers are an essential part of securing the U.S.-Mexico border:
Looking at wall construction historically, we see that walls go up, illegal apprehensions and illegal crossings go down. A wall system went up in San Diego, illegal crossings went down 27%. A wall system went up in Tucson [Arizona], illegal crossings went down 24%.
Here in Yuma, when the wall system went up, illegal crossings in that area decreased by over 78%. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Walls work. The facts simply do not lie.
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