The border wall is the golden calf that Donald Trump has promoted as the object of adulation and protection for the American people whom he continuously warned were under attack by swarms of dangerous and evil migrant refugees who would spread crime and disease if allowed to continue pouring into the country.
Despite the fact that experts — and common sense — have pointed out that a physical barrier on the southern border would do little to stem the flow of drug smuggling and illegal border crossings, Trump has ignored the objections of critics and Congress to continue his attempts to erect a wall on the border by diverting money from the Defense Department budget in a move of dubious legality and has continued to falsely crow at his authoritarian-style political rallies that miles of new fencing was being built— a claim that he promoted as vigorously and erroneously on Twitter.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2019
The reality — as verified by Politifact — is that next to no new wall has been built on the border, with the construction so far being limited to replacing sections of an already existing barrier with a newly designed fence.
“Before Trump became president, 654 miles of the nearly 2,000-mile U.S. Mexico border had primary barriers. As of today, that hasn’t increased,” Politifact reports.
Now The Washington Post is reporting that Trump’s much-vaunted newly-designed barrier fence is an even more colossal waste of money than anyone previously realized because Mexican drug smuggling gangs are simply sawing “through new sections of President Trump’s border wall in recent months by using commercially available power tools, opening gaps large enough for people and drug loads to pass through, according to U.S. agents and officials with knowledge of the damage.”
The newspaper attributes the ease with which the smugglers have breached the fence to a $100 cordless reciprocating saw — available at most hardware stores — that is fitted with specialized blades. With the widely available and inexpensive tools, “the saws can slice through one of the barrier’s steel-and-concrete bollards in a matter of minutes, according to the agents, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the barrier-defeating techniques,” according to The Post.
The engineers that the newspaper consulted said that smugglers can cut through the base of just a single bollard and then push the steel aside to create an opening that allows an adult to slip through the gap. Once a bollard is severed at the bottom, its height makes it simple push it out of the way because it is then only connected “to a panel at the very top” and left dangling.
“In the San Diego area, smugglers have figured out how to cut the bollards and return them to their original positions, disguising the breaches in the hope that they will go unnoticed and can be reused for repeated passage,” according to The Post.
The wall that Donald Trump described in his best used-car salesman spiel as “virtually impenetrable” and the “Rolls-Royce” of border walls to justify its $10 billion cost has been defeated by a $100 cordless power saw. That’s not to mention the fact that ladders, catapults, and tunnels remain other tools in the arsenal of workarounds used by smuggling rings to effectively circumvent the barrier to bring drugs and migrants across the border.
Despite the now documented breaches of the wall, the Trump administration has refused to acknowledge the failure of their over-hyped design for the barriers.
According to The Washington Post:
“The U.S. government has not disclosed the cutting incidents and breaches, and it is unclear how many times they have occurred. U.S. Customs and Border Protection declined to provide information about the number of breaches, the location of the incidents and the process for repairing them. Matt Leas, a spokesman for the agency, declined to comment, and CBP has not yet fulfilled a Freedom of Information Act request seeking data about the breaches and repairs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the private contractors building the barrier, referred inquires to CBP.”
The administration has, however, begun to backpedal through intermediaries such as Ronald Vitiello, the former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement until he was removed in April and a former U.S. Border Patrol chief who helped oversee the evaluation of barrier prototypes in 2017.
Vitiello excused the breaches as “poking and prodding” by Mexican cartel smuggling gangs and blamed the wall’s failure on Democrats — as any Trump acolyte would — for failing to provide sufficient funding for an idea that they presciently saw as a huge waste of taxpayer dollars on an ineffective solution to the immigration and drug smuggling issues.
“The bollards are not the most evolved design; they are the most evolved that we could pay for,” Vitiello said. “We never said they would be an end-all, be-all.”
Perhaps Vitiello should suggest that the president ask Mexico for the additional funding to build a wall that utilizes the most evolved design, since he promised during his 2016 campaign that they would be the ones paying for the wall to begin with.
Meanwhile, it is U.S. taxpayer dollars that have been wasted on a medieval solution that no intelligent human would have seen as an effective way to stop smuggling. Now that the proof of Trump’s concept’s failure has been delivered, it’s time to throw the entire wall-building project in the trash where it belongs and focus attention on effective border control solutions.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.