- Access roads by newly-built wall at the US-Mexico border made crossings worse, The New York Times reported.
- President Trump claimed the wall would end illegal crossings, but in places it is doing the opppsite.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Ranchers in Arizona are complaining that access roads built as part of Trump’s incomplete wall construction are making border crossings and smugglings easier.
In southern Arizona – where much of the last-minute wall construction drew to a halt half-complete – locals told The New York Times that the access roads are a security problem.
“Now there are so many access roads that it’s possible for someone to walk right up to places where the wall ends, and have someone just pick them up,” Valar Clark, a conservationist, told the outlet.
That 60-day pause is due to expire this weekend, with few clues as to what will happen next. In the meantime, the Biden administration has been struggling to handle a surge in crossings.
While the pause has pleased anti-wall campaigners, the limbo is unsatisfying on either side of the political divide.
Prominent Republicans have slammed Biden for the surge at the border, blaming gaps in the wall. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said during a Monday press conference: “This crisis is created by the presidential policies of this new administration. There’s no other way to claim it than a Biden border crisis.”
Speaking to Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday night, Trump claimed that the wall could have been finished “in a month,” saying “the wall was almost complete.”
Around 453 miles of wall was completed during Trump’s four years in office, leaving more than 1,000 miles to go and little prospect of quick completion.
It is not clear whether the crossing flagged by Arizona are part of the broader surge at the US border. A large proportion of recent crossings appear to be taking place over the Rio Grande in Texas, the Associated Press reported.
But anti-wall campaigners have long predicted that wall construction in Arizona would worsen security there.
Half-finished walls with access roads
While much of the completed wall runs uninterrupted along Arizona’s flat plains, construction is much more challenging in the state’s mountainous areas, such as Guadelupe Canyon.
Here, tons of dynamite were in use to blast roads into mountains just for machinery to reach the build site.
In some places, ravines were blasted straight through the natural barrier of mountains, only for the wall to stop short at the bottom. In other areas, segments of border wall stand unfinished, with roads leading up to them over previously impassable terrain.
Clark told The New York Times of one ranch manager who had moved home after a break-in, the sort of crime that was previously rare.
As campaigners have repeatedly told Insider, these remote, rugged parts of Arizona were never a priority for border security.
In January, campaigners in Arizona told Insider that the situation was making border security worse – especially with the expectation that the work would soon stop incomplete.
Laiken Jordahl, a borderlands campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, told Insider in a statement at the time: “Trump and CBP are so blindly obsessed by their shiny steel wall that they’ve entirely failed to consider how blasting roads into wilderness areas gives smugglers new avenues to cross the border.”
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told Insider at the time that the work was not harming border security.
Photographer John Darwin Kurc, who has spent the last two years documenting the process at the border, told Insider in January that he had also seen an increase in CBP responses in Guadelupe Canyon.
“I’ve sat many, many, many hours in this area and never saw Border Patrol,” he said. “And now you see them all the time down at the Guadalupe Canyon ranch, because they have to be there.”