YUMA, Ariz.(NewsNation) — The number of migrants crossing the U.S. southern border illegally continues to overwhelm law enforcement and farmers, even as Arizona is in the process of placing shipping containers in gaps between the border wall in Yuma.
Curtis Griffen has been farming in Yuma for decades. He sees the crisis firsthand as migrants cross through his fields every day, destroying crops and leaving behind trash that damages his machinery.
“It’s more than dollars and cents; it’s millions of dollars. You think of how many farmers are impacted across this border, it’s not just me, there’s several of us and we’re all going through the same problems,” Griffen said.
The Yuma sector, historically one of the quieter spots along the border, has seen a nearly 250% increase in migrant encounters this fiscal year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
It’s also been home to the notorious Yuma gap — portions of the border wall left unfinished that migrants cross through. This week, the state of Arizona is putting the finishing touches on plugging the gaps with shipping containers.
“Something’s got to be done; whether it’s going to work remains to be seen,” said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council.
Judd is cautiously optimistic but said this won’t solve the whole problem. primarily because there are still large portions of the border in Arizona where the wall cannot be built because it’s reservation land. But, the hope is almost all crossings will not take place in those areas, making Border Patrol more effective and efficient at processing.
“We want to dictate where the crossings take place,” Judd said.
Arizona accounts for about 300 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border; 75 of which is reservation land, according to the National Border Council. They say reservation land is the most troubling spot because they can’t put up border fences or install any technology.
Griffen’s farmland is near those trouble spots, meaning he’ll still be dealing with the issue every day. He wants the federal government to do more.
“Quit pretending it’s not a problem, it absolutely is a problem; you need to address it,” Griffen said.