President Donald Trump pushed back against news that smugglers have repeatedly sawed through new sections of border wall, noting that such damage can be easily repaired.
“We have a very powerful wall. But no matter how powerful, you can cut through anything, in all fairness,” Trump said to reporters Saturday while speaking at the White House. “But we have a lot of people watching. You know, cutting — cutting is one thing, but it’s easily fixed. One of the reasons we did it the way we did it.”
“But we have a very powerful wall. But you can cut through any wall,” he continued.
The president’s comments come as The Washington Post reported that smugglers have successfully sawed through numerous parts of southern border wall, allowing them to continue pushing drugs and humans into the U.S. Smuggling gangs have reportedly been able to penetrate the border wall using a reciprocating saw, which is a cordless, widely available power tool that can cost as a little as $100 at hardware stores.
These reciprocating saws — when equipped with specialized blades that can cost as low as $10 — can cut through the base of a single bollard in a matter of minutes.
The report is drawing into question the effectiveness of the administration’s border wall, which is made up of steel and concrete bollard barriers, and stand 18 to 30 feet high. However, immigration officials argue that innovative measures by gang smugglers was always expected. (RELATED: Obama-Appointed Judge Blocks Trump’s Health Care Rule For Immigrants)
“The cartels will continue to innovate, and they’re not just going to leave San Diego because the wall gets better,” Ron Vitiello, a former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said to WaPo. “That’s life on the border.”
“The bollards are not the most evolved design; they are the most evolved that we could pay for,” Vitiello went on. “We never said they would be an end-all, be-all.”
Former and current Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials said that the new bollard design remains far better than any previous design. Some parts of the wall that were sliced through, they noted, were in sections that had yet to be fitted with electronic sensors that can detect vibrations produced by sawing. Additionally, the officials argued that the steel bollard system makes for easy repairs and replacements when panels are damaged.
Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of CBP, announced in October that 71 miles of new border wall has been built since Trump entered office. It is the administration’s goal to build about 450 miles of new physical barrier by the end of next year, completing much of the work ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
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