The White House is completing more sections of former President Donald Trump’s border wall, and the Department of Homeland Security is closing four gaps in the barrier near Yuma, Arizona, that have become one gap Main artery for migrants.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Authorized Customs and Border Protection Thursday to seal vents near Morelos Dam west of downtown Yuma.
The department said the area “poses safety and life risks to migrants attempting to enter the United States, where there is a risk of drowning and injury from falls.” This area also poses a life and safety hazard to first responders and agents responding to incidents in this area.”
The dam is on a section of the boundary that runs north-south along the Colorado River before turning into an east-west stretch at the California-Arizona state line.
Border officials have reported 235,230 encounters with migrants in the Yuma sector of Border Patrol since October. 1 of last year. Only the Del Rio (326,177) and Rio Grande Valley (377,194) sectors have reported more encounters over the same period.
President Biden ordered a halt to the construction of the border wall shortly after he took office in January 2021. While the move was praised by liberal activists, it also left holes in the barrier that critics — including Biden’s Democrats — say have been exploited by individual migrants and traffickers who target groups of people smuggle the border.
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) commended DHS Thursday for filling in the openings.
“The Morelos Dam area has for too long been an operational challenge for Border Patrol agents to properly secure the border and protect our communities,” Kelly said in a statement.
“I’m glad the Department of Homeland Security has listened to Arizona and will fill these gaps,” Kelly added. “This is a step forward and I will continue to work to ensure Arizona has the tools needed for a safe and orderly process at the border, including fences and barriers where they make sense.”
Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls, a Republican, also welcomed the move, calling it “an important first step in bringing this border crisis under control, assisting our law enforcement, and keeping border communities safe.”
The project will be funded from DHS fiscal 2021 funds approved during the Trump administration.
Earlier this month, the department approved similar boundary wall construction to replace a “degraded barrier” near the Friendship Park transboundary in Imperial Beach, California.
In December last year Mayorkas approved the funding to fill unfinished vacant lots that would meet “living, safety, environmental, and sanitation requirements for frontier barrier projects” in California, Arizona, and Texas.
The move to close the vents in Yuma comes as Record numbers of migrants attempted to enter the United States.
June was the fourth straight month that border officials encountered more than 200,000 migrants (207,416). It also brought the total number of stops recorded since October 10th. 1 to 1,746,119 – the most in any fiscal year since 1960.