Monsoon rainfall in southeast Arizona damaged sections of the multi-billion dollar border wall whose construction was a signature policy goal of former President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration agenda.
A photo of Trump’s “impenetrable” wall of rusted steel bollards taken near the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge along the Arizona border with Mexico shows large floodgates ripped from their hinges amid piles of debris after days of monsoon rainfall.
The damage caused by the recent rains is the latest in a series of incidents that have exposed flaws in the construction of the wall, which cost U.S. taxpayers–not Mexico, as Trump had repeatedly promised–an estimated $15 billion.
“This is what happens when [the Department of Homeland Security] waives all environmental laws & ignores basic science to put up a political prop,” said Laiken Jordahl of the Center for Biological Diversity on Twitter about the latest damage.
The floodgates are left open during the summer months when heavy rainfall and flash flooding is most likely to occur. Critics of the wall have often cited the gates as evidence that the wall is more a symbol than an effective way to stop migrants from entering the United States illegally.
“If the point of the wall is to keep people out, with all these doors open it’s not going to do that,” Jordahl told an Arizona TV news station in late July.
President Joe Biden ordered all construction of the border wall halted upon taking office in January. Roughly half of the 452 miles of wall built during Trump’s tenure–the majority replacing existing structures–was erected along Arizona’s southern border.
Since construction of the wall began, videos have circulated of migrants easily climbing the bollards, six-inch thick squares of steel reinforced with rebar and concrete, including with rope or extension ladders. Human smugglers have also cut through the bollards using cheap tools that can open a gap in the wall in a matter of minutes.
“We’re going to build a wall, and it’s going to be impenetrable, it will be a real wall,” said Trump during a 2015 campaign rally.
Environmentalists have denounced the wall’s impact on cross-border rivers and creeks as well as on the habitat and migration routes of threatened and endangered species such as jaguars and Mexican wolves. The region covered by southern Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora is considered one of the most biodiverse inland areas on the entire continent.
Activists have called for sections of Trump’s border wall that have caused harm to wildlife or riverways to be torn down and the habitat restored, but the Biden administration has taken no such action as of yet.