YUMA, Ariz. (Border Report) — Stacks and stacks of metal panels made out of bollard fencing, measuring 30 feet in height, are lying on the desert floor inside a construction yard ready to be put to use.
But for now, they’ll remain in place until crews finish the foundation and other prep work for the border wall project, which began last month.
They will be sealing portions of the border wall that were not completed by the Trump administration.
And although he pledged “not to build another foot of wall,” President Joe Biden has approved work to close off certain sections all along the southern border including areas in Arizona.
One of them is an aperture known as the “Yuma Gap,” where thousands of migrants have entered the U.S. in the past.
“Some areas I can understand where it’s feasible to finish certain sections,” said Fernando Quiroz, a migrant advocate with the Arizona-California Humanitarian Coalition. “There has always been a fence, this is just a more expensive more elaborate fence.”
Quiroz told Border Report he doesn’t see a need for the 30-foot walls and is not happy with Biden for authorizing the work.
“Does it play a role detaining individuals from stopping from coming? I believe not,” he said.
While Quiroz doesn’t see a value in the wall or the gaps being closed, the Border Patrol and the union that represents agents do.
“It’s not going to be the end-all, but it’s definitely a piece of the puzzle,” said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council. “To realistically patrol this border without a wall, that infrastructure it’s going to take about one agent per linear mile, with the wall you can do it with one agent for every seven miles.”
But Quiroz believes the wall doesn’t matter in the eyes of migrants. He says they will come regardless of any obstacles just like other migrants before them.
“America is still that beacon of hope, whether we like it or not, this wall behind me is our Ellis Island,” he said. “They still see this as the Statue of Liberty, somebody in our family took that step, somebody in our family got on a boat and crossed and came to Ellis Island.”
Quiroz pointed out that in recent months, he and his volunteers have seen fewer migrants crossing in the area on a daily basis.
“We had anywhere from 700 to 1,000 now we’re seeing less than 300 per day.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics mirror Quiroz’s assessment.
For the month of January, the agency reported 10,943 migrant encounters in the Yuma Sector. In December, the number was 30,664. And overall, apprehensions this year are down 7 percent when compared to the same time last fiscal year in the Yuma Sector.
“Who are we to judge those who walk the difficult terrain to seek work in this country, those who seek the same path,” said Quiroz.