President Trump and his administration have announced they plan on building between 450 and 500 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico by the end of next year—and the project is already underway in Yuma, Arizona.
It’s an ambitious undertaking funded by billions of defense dollars that had been earmarked for things like military base schools, target ranges and maintenance facilities. Two other Pentagon-funded construction projects in New Mexico and Arizona are underway, but some are skeptical that so many miles of wall can be built in such a short amount of time.
The Trump administration says the wall — along with more surveillance technology, agents and lighting — is key to keeping out people who cross illegally. Critics say a wall is useless when most of those apprehended turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents in the hope they can be eventually released while their cases play out in immigration court.
In Yuma, the defense-funded section of tall fencing is replacing shorter barriers that U.S. officials say are less efficient. It comes amid a steep increase since last year in the number of migrant families who cross the border illegally in the Yuma area, often turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents.
The Tohono O'odham tribe in southern Arizona has expressed opposition to more border fencing on its land, which stretches for nearly 75 miles along the border with Mexico.
Near Yuma, the Cocopah Indian Tribe's reservation is near the latest fencing project, and leaders are concerned it will block the view to its sacred sites.