Similar to plot in the famous 1957 movie, 3:10 to Yuma, those in the Wild West of Arizona, continue to play a key law enforcement role today, evidencing the “gold standard” of American border security.
In 2005, Border Patrol agents stationed in Yuma, on average, arrested 800 illegals per day. Agents also curtailed roughly 2,700 vehicle penetrations of the border in the Yuma area alone, many loaded with drugs and driven at high speeds to push their way through the flimsy fence.
In 2006, President Bush pledged to fix border security in Yuma and elsewhere. Congress passed the Secure Fence Act in 2006, which allocated funds for the construction of a double-tier fence to be built along 700 miles of the border. (One year later, senators watered down its language in a spending bill in order to give Homeland Security officials greater oversight.) Construction took three years and now the Yuma border is perhaps the most secure stretch of the American/Mexican border.
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Today, the Border Patrol in Yuma, which has triple the manpower it had in 2005, now arrests 15 illegals per day. Remarkably the number of vehicle penetrations this year is only 27.
Border Patrol Agent Richard Withers commented about the Yuma fence, saying:
“It works. This is the most secure area of the border. It is pretty hard for a guy to cross here. But they try.”
How does an illegal cross over the Yuma border?
The first obstacle encountered is a 20 foot-high steel fence. If successfully scaled, illegals would next have to cross a 75-yard-wide “no-man’s-land” monitored by cameras and motion sensors and regularly patrolled by border agents. If an illegal successfully crosses “no man’s land,” he/she will encounter another monitored, tightly woven steel fence. If this fence is successfully breached, an illegal would face a cyclone fence topped with barbed wire.
Anthony Porvaznik, Yuma Sector Chief commented on how successful Yuma border security is: “It was the Wild West out here. We essentially apprehend 92 percent of all entries through the Yuma sector. That is 126 miles of border, which includes 12 miles of these sand dunes. On a scale of 1 to 10 we are a 9.”
“Unless you give them a reason not to come back, they will,” he adds. “When we started Operation Streamline, fewer deportees tried to cross. It was simple. They didn’t want to go to jail. Our first-time offenders went to jail for 15 days. We took them out of their smuggling cycle.”
Most of the illegal traffic has now shifted to the Colorado River which runs along the Arizona-California border into Mexico or 126 miles to the east where the Yuma border area ends. Illegals use boats and try to swim up the river. In one location, Border Patrol agents found a stretch of sand bags just under the surface of the river forming a footpath they could walk on.
Agents note that hundreds of illegals have been seen walking along the 126 miles of desert on the Mexican side of the border. Many make it to less secured areas, but a number of them die along the way from the harshness of the desert, especially during the summer months.
The success of the 126 miles along the Yuma border fence is testimony to how effective America’s border can be. Critics have claimed securing the border is too expensive of an endeavor. But, the cost of construction could be drastically reduced if American military construction crews were involved.
In fact, America’s military could help expand the fence to the Pacific Ocean, in the same way that FDR’s Works Program Administration built dams, roads and national parks. The fence expanding from Yuma could provide the gold standard for the entire border.