Former President Donald Trump’s commissioner of Customs and Border Protection told the local newspaper in El Paso, Texas that the new 30-foot high border wall’s steel beams were “impressive,” when he toured a stretch of it in August 2020.
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“It really does, I think, physically represent exactly what we’ve been trying to do since Day One. That is to give Border Patrol increased operational capacity to do what they need to do to protect the country,” Commissioner Mark Morgan said.
Nearly two years after, illegal border crossings are at an all-time high, while since October 2021, Border Patrol agents and local paramedics have responded to 229 injuries, including some fatalities, as migrants scale the Mexican side of the steel barrier and then fall 30 feet onto U.S. soil.
A teenage girl who, agents say, fell from the top of the wall and was found alone at the bottom, is the aftermath of one of the most recent injuries. She struggled to catch her breath and writhed in pain as paramedics secured her to a stretcher and loaded her into an ambulance.
Agent Valeria Morales said: “This little girl was exploited by a smuggler. She was forced to scale the border barrier and she fell.”
This is actually a common scene, according to Morales: Smugglers build ladders that can scale the fence and force migrants to the top, often telling them they can scale the fence on the way down. However, many lack the upper body strength to do it or are not able to hold on to the hot steel posts.
Morales said that broken legs, broken ankles and even brain and spinal injuries are common.
The Trump administration built 133 miles of bollard-style fencing in Texas and New Mexico, in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, which includes the entire border between Mexico and New Mexico. A portion of the earlier barrier, made of two layers of mesh netting, which was easier to cut through, was replaced by the new fence. Some stretches of mesh netting remain, and Morales and her fellow agents often wonder why smugglers force migrants to scale the wall rather than cut through the mesh. It speaks to the inhumane way smugglers view migrants, they say.
The Border Patrol must also dedicate time and personnel to respond to emergencies at the border wall, in addition to the human toll.
Smugglers were seen dropping two young sisters over the wall in El Paso onto the ground, in one highly circulated video from 2021. Luckily, both girls survived unharmed.
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