LUKEVILLE, Ariz. (NewsNation) — Thousands of migrants are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona through opened floodgates.
Due to the monsoon season, some gates along the southern border wall are open to prevent environmental hazards.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection told NewsNation they welded the gates open as the water force could damage the gates and the wall. In 2021, some gates were torn off and ended up in Mexico.
“When gates become damaged, they need to be secured open to prevent additional damage which can prolong the gap in the infrastructure,” a CBP spokesperson said in a statement. “The unregulated flow of water can also undermine the integrity of the border road disrupting agents and emergency services ability to respond to illegal entries, smuggling and other criminal activity, or persons in distress.”
However, the move is being exploited by human smugglers, raising concerns about border security.
The gates run along a 36-mile stretch near Lukeville, Arizona, The New York Post reports. Each of the 114 gates which have been open for nearly two months, has 12-foot doors wide enough for a motorcycle to drive through.
Smugglers drive busloads of migrants to the Mexican side of the border, where they get off and simply walk into the US, the New York Post reports.
In a statement to The New York Post, CBP said: “The individuals had already crossed the border from Mexico, are on U.S. soil, and are subject to U.S. immigration laws. Individuals who cross unlawfully will be subject to the lawful pathways rule, which places common-sense conditions on asylum eligibility, with certain exceptions. Those who do not establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed.”
Earlier this month, two large migrant groups were directed by smugglers to rush Border Patrol agents. No injuries occurred, but the Border Patrol Council warns that open gates enable cartels to send large groups to overwhelm and distract agents.
Agents no longer patrol within the Sonora Desert reservation. According to them, this decision is driven by multiple factors, with a significant one being a shortage of personnel. Their attention is primarily directed toward addressing the ongoing situation in this area.