The insurrectionist former president during his term (and hopefully the only term there’ll be) declared that his asinine border wall was “virtually impenetrable” … that is, unless you’re near a Home Depot. The Washington Post reported last year that smugglers breached the multi-billion-dollar fencing that Mexico never did pay for with “commercially available power tools” going for $100. Reporting would later reveal that it had been breached thousands of times. But they weren’t just going through it, or over it—they were also going under it, too.
A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveals that U.S. border officials discovered dozens of tunnels under the fencing from 2017 to 2021, said David J. Bier, immigration studies associate director at the libertarian think tank Cato Institute. He writes that border officials found 40 tunnels in total, including a record-breaking one that stretched out to the equivalent of 14 football fields.
“The annual figures reveal an interesting jump in tunnel discovery in 2020,” Bier wrote. “As President Trump frantically built out over 300 miles of his border wall in 2020, the agency discovered nearly one new tunnel per month. The 11 tunnels discovered that year were the highest for the period.”
Ah, I know we all felt safer as the insurrectionist president, after losing the 2020 election, rushed to blow up picturesque mountains in Arizona even after it was pretty clear he wouldn’t have enough time to build anything there before President Biden took the oath of office. Meanwhile, what has actually been built has been getting breached at a rate of nearly a dozen times per day, Bier said. “The number of breaches reached 4,101 in 2022, the highest number recorded during that period.”
Repairs as of last year had cost more than $2.5 million, a number that has certainly climbed since then. Reporting by The Washington Post said that smugglers use a tinted putty to disguise the portions they’ve sliced through. “The smugglers can return again and again to the site until the damage is detected, using the breach like a secret entrance.”
It’s easy to laugh off the project, because it really is just so, so stupid. I mean, it started off as a racist campaign chant engineered in part by white nationalist Steve Bannon and ratfucker Roger Stone. But it also posed a danger to migrants—and that’s been on purpose. Human rights advocates noted how a former Border Patrol chief admitted fencing was built taller, 30 feet in total, in order to disorient potential border crossers. “Disorientation at that height would surely mean a person attempting to scale the wall would fall, resulting in serious injuries or death,” Pedro Rios wrote in a San Diego Union-Tribune op-ed.
NBC News reported last year that border agents and paramedics “have responded to 229 injuries since October 2021, including some fatalities.” National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Rick Scott’s dystopian plan from last year included a proposal to finish the wall and name it after the insurrectionist president.
State Republicans have also offered their own wall-related stunts. In Arizona, former Governor Doug Ducey illegally dumped shipping containers on federal lands, achieving nothing but blocking protected wildlife paths and creating an expensive eyesore. He finally agreed to remove the nearly $200 million project after getting sued by the Biden administration. In Texas, meanwhile, GOP megadonors have won massive state contracts to build fencing on state-owned and privately-donated lands. $830 million in contracts for just 30 miles of the barrier have been awarded, while zero is the effect it’ll have on unauthorized immigration.
“The border wall has failed,” Bier concludes. “It’s a wasteful project that cost $15 billion and is still requiring millions of dollars annually in upkeep. Yet the Biden administration is still building further sections of it. This project should end immediately, and the government should return the sections of the wall already constructed to the property owners from whom the land was taken.”