Last year, Donald Trump sent thousands of troops to the border, supposedly to protect us from an invasion of undocumented immigrants. Those troops have had to find something to do. In some places, that thing is apparently putting up absurd amounts of concertina wire, also known as razor wire, on already existing walls.
In Nogales, AZ, a town that already has a wall on the Mexican and American border, the troops have put up so much concertina wire that the town is considering suing the government to take it down, according to the Washington Post.
This week, Nogales’ city council passed a resolution opposing the razor wire and demanding it be removed. It includes a threat to sue the government if the wire is not removed.
The federal government did not seek approval from local politicians before installing the wire, which many consider dangerous.
The resolution reads, in part:
Placing coiled concertina wire strands on the ground is typically only found in a war, battlefield or prison setting, and not in an urban setting such as downtown Nogales, Arizona. Placing coiled concertina wire that is designed to inflict serious bodily injury or death in the immediate proximity of our residents, children, pets, law enforcement and first responders is not only irresponsible but inhuman.
“They should have the respect to call my office and call our police and fire chief and says these are our plans,” Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino told the Post. “They didn’t call anybody, they just went and did it. They are not being good stewards in our city and that’s not right.”
There are currently 6,550 troops and National Guardsmen on the border. Trump first deployed troops there in November, allegedly to protect American citizens from crime caused by illegal immigrants. They have installed 80 miles of concertina wire, according to William Speaks, a Defense Department spokesman. The deployment has so far cost $132 million, but that number may rise to $1 billion by the end of the year.
It turns out Nogales residents’ perception of life on the border is quite different than the narrative spread by the Trump administration and conservative media.
From the Post:
He shared his concerns during a sit down with three agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday, but said they had a ready made response, speaking about “rapists, murderers and drug dealers,” and telling him that they had had a lot of incidents with people jumping the fence, he said.
“But that was strange, because the police chief, assistant chief and deputy city manager were there, and we don’t know of those things happening,” Garino said. “I don’t know where they’re getting their stats.”
Security experts agree that the concertina wire is overkill.
“When you look at that amount of wire that is something you’d most frequently see around a high-security prison, a nuclear facility, things along those lines,” Scott Zimmerman, the CEO and founder of a security consulting company based in Maryland, told the Post. “Not something we commonly see here in the U.S.”
The Customs and Border Protection agency said in a statement that the troops are installing razor wire in “high-risk urban areas commonly exploited by criminal smuggling organizations.” They don’t plan to remove the wire.
“In locations where there is high pedestrian activity, the concertina wire is limited to only the upper portion of the wall,” the statement said. “Hardening of current infrastructure specifically in high-risk locations of the urban area help reduce the illicit activity, to include violent criminals, in these areas and increase the public safety.”
But Americans who live on the border feel more threatened by the troops activity than by undocumented immigrants.
“You hear on the news that an invasion is coming, but in fact border communities have been invaded by our own government,” Evan Kory, who owns a business in Nogales, told The Arizona Daily Star.
National politicians have also called for the wire to be removed.
“The additional wire is nothing more than a spectacle by the Trump administration to reinforce his twisted narrative of rampant lawlessness at the border,” Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, who represents Nogales, said in a statement. “Border residents know that this mischaracterization couldn’t be further from the truth, and will not stand for the lies perpetrated by the Trump administration.”
While Trump still hasn’t received funding for a wall that would supposedly stretch across the entire U.S.-Mexico border, he hasn’t given up on building it yet. When the deadline for negotiations with Congress ends, it’s very possible that the president will declare the situation on the border a national emergency and use the Army Corps to build the wall. If that’s the case, residents along the border will have to get used to the federal forces stationed there—they won’t be going anywhere.