The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Thursday that Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (D) gave U.S. Customs and Border Protection the authorization to execute the Yuma Morelos Dam Project and close four gaps along the border wall.
“These projects address operational impacts, as well as immediate life and safety risks, and will be funded with DHS’s Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations,” according to a DHS statement.
The DHS detailed that the gaps are within the former Yuma 6 project area, a border barrier project funded by the Department of Defense (DOD). The statement from the DHS alleges that this area’s proximity to Morelos Dam and the Colorado River presents a danger of slipping on a slope or drowning to migrants trying to enter the United States. The same danger applies to agents responding to incidents in the area. The DHS claims it will move as expeditiously as possible to get this project done while maintaining “environmental stewardship.”
The Arizona Sun Times reached out to Arizona Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) for his reaction to this news but did not receive a comment before publishing time.
According to Fox News, “not another foot” were the words now President Joe Biden (D) used regarding the southern border wall during his presidential campaign. Biden often criticized former President Donald Trump for his border wall and immigration policies, referring to them as racist and xenophobic. When Biden took office, he immediately ceased all new border wall construction, paused construction on southern border wall projects, and redirected funds meant for wall construction. This action has been met by bipartisan backlash from those who say Biden needs to secure the border.
Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D) praised the news after pressing the Biden administration to close the gaps.
“For too long, the Morelos Dam area has been an operational challenge for Border Patrol agents to properly secure the border and keep our communities safe. I’m glad that the Department of Homeland Security has listened to Arizona and is going to close these gaps,” Kelly said.
KYMA reported that a five-year-old migrant drowned in the Colorado River attempting to cross into the United States in Yuma. The child’s mother allegedly was in custody when she told agents she had been separated from her child. Agents found the child north of the Morales Dam, but it was too late.
Heartbreaking. Make no mistake: this is a humanitarian crisis. https://t.co/5KUu9WJlO2
— Doug Ducey (@DougDucey) June 9, 2022
Moreover, Reuters reported that over 1,000 migrants have died on the U.S.-Mexico border since Biden took office in 2021. Aside from drowning, the immense heat of summer, falling while trying to scale the border wall, and smuggling organizations with “no regard for human life” all contribute to migrant deaths.
The Sun Times reported that encounters at the southern border continue to climb monthly. In June alone, the CBP encountered 207,416 migrants along the southern border; 153,379 were unique encounters. This is the highest number of encounters recorded in June but is down 14 percent from May, which saw a record 240,991 encounters. The Yuma sector has had the third most border encounters during the 2022 fiscal year; encounters have increased by 292 percent since 2021. However, the CBP does not publicly record “gotaways,” or those who evade capture while crossing the border. Meaning the total number of border crossings could be much higher.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Yuma Border Wall” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
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