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Arizona border town mayor condemns razor wire installed along border

The additional concertina wire can be seen on the border fence in Nogales, Ariz, on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2019. U.S. The city council in Nogales, which sits on the border with Nogales, Mexico, is set to consider a proclamation Wednesday night condemning the use of concertina wire. It follows reports that U.S. military troops installed more horizontal layers of the wire along the downtown border fence over the weekend. (Tim Steller/Arizona Daily Star via AP)

PHOENIX — The mayor of an Arizona border town said the razor wire along the entirety of a tall border wall is ineffective in stopping crime and puts residents at risk.

Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino said an unnamed Border Patrol official said the wire was installed to stop “murderers, rapists, child molesters” from coming into the U.S. and to “fortify” the border.

“And so I said, ‘With razor wire?’ And he said yes,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Wednesday.

Garino said the wire stretches along the height of the 18- to 20-foot wall and gets as close to a street width away in some residential areas.

“They have three rows of it, and it gives you that affect like they’re trying to keep us from jumping across,” Garino said.

“I said, ‘What about our children, our residents here? What are the concerns?’ He said, ‘Well, we’re going to put up signs somewhere saying that’s dangerous.'”

A statement provided to KTAR News from U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the additional wire was added in “high-risk urban areas commonly exploited by criminal smuggling organizations.

“These locations are outside the City of Nogales Charter and on United States government property,” the statement read.

But even if the wire were to be taken down, Garino said a border wall is not effective at keeping potential criminals out of the country.

“The president’s been asking for a wall, and we have a wall. By the looks of it, I guess the wall doesn’t work because now they’re putting concertina wire on it,” he said.

“If that’s the case, we have a 20-foot wall or an 18-foot wall, why isn’t the wall slowing them down and allowing Border Patrol to get there in case somebody scales the wall and jumps over?”

The Nogales City Council earlier this month passed a resolution condemning the new wire and said the city would sue the federal government if it is not removed.

The council’s resolution said the razor wire would harm or kill anyone who scales the wall and “is only found in a war, prison or battle setting” and should not be in downtown Nogales.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that there are currently no plans to remove the wire.

Soldiers have installed concertina wire at or near several official crossings at the border. In late November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the military had sent 36 miles of concertina for use in California, Arizona, and Texas.

Nogales, a city of about 20,000 people, is a fraction of the size of its Mexican counterpart, but its economy is largely reliant on Mexican shoppers and cross-border trade. Illegal crossings in that area have dropped steeply in the past several years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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