People Keep Cutting Through Trump’s Border Wall

Vaunted barrier can be sawed open in minutes.

Matt York/AP

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

Earlier this year President Donald J. Trump, the noted classicist and civil engineer, told an audience assembled near the Mexican border that millennia of human history has shown that “there are some things that work…and a wall works. Nothing like a wall.”

Alas, a new report from the Washington Post suggests that Trump’s vaunted border wall is… not a thing that works. This should come as no surprise—as long as there have been walls, there have been people going around, over, under, or through them. According to Border Patrol agents and construction experts familiar with the barrier, Trump’s new wall design doesn’t sound hard to overcome, as people have already proven, again and again:

The breaches have been made using a popular cordless household tool known as a reciprocating saw that retails at hardware stores for as little as $100. When fitted with specialized blades, the saws can slice through one of the barrier’s steel-and-concrete bollards in a matter of minutes…smugglers can push the steel out of the way, allowing an adult to fit through the gap. Because the bollards are so tall—and are attached only to a panel at the very top—their length makes them easier to push aside…

Administration officials argue the wall still provides a helpful barrier in conjunction with remote monitoring and boots on the ground, but no one expects that it will stop smugglers from illegally crossing. 

“The cartels will continue to innovate, and they’re not just going to leave San Diego because the wall gets better,” says Ronald Vitiello, a former chief of U.S. Border Patrol and acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the Post.

Joshua Holmes, a Border Patrol agent and union official, agreed, telling the paper: “What happens any time some barrier is thrown up in front of a business is they adapt, and that’s all they’re trying to do.”

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate