Arizona.- On a dirt road next to date trees, a few meters from a dry section of the Colorado River, a small construction team erects an imposing wall that the government hopes to reduce forever the flow of immigrants crossing the border between Mexico and the States United illegally.
The cicadas sing and heavy equipment roars as sections of 9 meters (30 feet) fall from the wall. “There it is!” Says a worker in Spanish while others straighten the section once it is resting on the ground. Near them, other workers collect dates of palms, not far from the cotton fields that people see from their cars when heading to the border.
To the south of Yuma, Arizona, a gigantic wall rises next to the desert that will replace much lower barriers, designed to stop cars, not people.
This section of 8 kilometers (5 miles) of fence is where the most important promise that Donald Trump made in his presidential campaign begins to take shape, that of building a wall along the entire southern border.
The government said this week that it plans to build a wall between 724 and 806 kilometers (400 and 500 miles) at the border, which is 3,218 km (2,000 m), by the end of 2020, an ambitious proposal financed with thousands of millions of dollars from the defense department that had been initially allocated to things like schools, shooting ranges and maintenance facilities at military bases.
Two other construction projects financed by the Pentagon in New Mexico and Arizona are also underway, but some are skeptical about the length of wall that can be built in such a short time. After all, stumbling blocks are expected in the works, financing issues and demands of environmentalists and landowners on the border.
The Trump administration says that the wall, along with the technology applied to surveillance, agents and lighting, are vital to prevent illegal crossings.
The detractors of the initiative, meanwhile, say that the wall is unnecessary in view of the fact that most of the detainees have given themselves to Border Patrol agents, in the hope of being released while their cases are processed by immigration courts, which may take time.
In Yuma, the military-funded wall replaces lower barriers that authorities say are less efficient.
Since last year there has been a sharp increase in the number of migrant families that cross the border illegally through the Yuma area, often surrendering to the authorities. Many escape extreme poverty and violence, and some seek asylum.
So far this year, Border Patrol agents in the Yuma area arrested some 51,000 families, compared to 14,500 the previous year. An increase of 250%.
The Yuma sector is the third busiest on the border with Mexico and the authorities set up in June a store for 500 people in a parking lot at the headquarters of the Border Patrol in Yuma.
They spent almost 15 million dollars in four months, including meals, laundry and security. The authorities analyze whether they continue to use it since the number of migrants crossing the border has significantly declined in recent months.
This is mainly due to the efforts of the Mexican government to contain the flow of migrants heading north, after Trump threatened to impose import tariffs this year.
The number of people detained at the southern border fell by 61% since May – which registered the peak this year – and the end of August. In Yuma it decreased 86%, according to government figures. Most of the detainees travel as a family or are unaccompanied minors.
. (tagsToTranslate) Border Wall (t) Arizona