President Trump has bragged about his border wall being “virtually impenetrable,” but it turns out all you need to get through it is a cheap saw.
Smugglers are reportedly using under-$100 saws to cut through sections of the U.S.-Mexico border wall that have already been built in parts of the San Diego and El Centro sectors in California. Other groups have begun using makeshift ladders made of reinforcement bars to scale the wall and get around its “anti-climb panels,” several U.S. officials told the Washington Post.
Sources told the Post that cartels and smuggling organizations have used a tool called a reciprocating saw — the cheapest of which cost less than $100 at most hardware stores — to cut through the wall’s steel bollards in certain sectors in California. Because of the way the wall is built, smugglers only need to cut through a single slat to make a hole big enough for a person to pass through, according to the Post.
“I haven’t heard that,” Trump told the Post on Saturday after reporters asked him about smugglers cutting through the wall. “We have a very powerful wall. But no matter how powerful, you can cut through anything, in all fairness. But we have a lot of people watching. You know cutting, cutting is one thing, but it’s easily fixed. One of the reasons we did it the way we did it, it’s very easily fixed. You put the chunk back in.”
He isn’t wrong, at least according to the Post’s sources. Since smugglers usually cut through one of the bollards, it’s easy for agents to replace the parts that get damaged. But some smugglers also reportedly try to trick agents by making broken slats look like they’re fully intact.
Earlier this year, NBC News reported that the steel slat model preferred by the president was easy to saw through. At the time, Trump said that version of the wall had been “designed by previous administrations.” It’s unclear how the bollards that have been installed so far differ from the prototypes NBC reported on in January.
A wall spanning the entire U.S.-Mexico border was one of Trump’s signature campaign promises in 2016, and he’s hinging part of his reelection campaign on the ability to get it built — even if U.S. taxpayers are paying for it instead of the Mexican government, which he promised on the campaign trail. The Trump administration has budgeted nearly $10 billion for the wall and has built 76 miles of it so far in areas that already had some kind of fencing. Customs and Border Protection told the Post that an additional 158 miles are being built right now, and 276 other miles are in a "preconstruction" phase.
Cover: In this April 5, 2019, file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle sits near the wall as President Donald Trump visits a new section of the border wall with Mexico in El Centro, Calif. A federal judge has denied a request by the U.S. House of Representatives to prevent President Donald Trump from tapping Defense Department money for a border wall with Mexico. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)