Arizona congressman calls for removal of border wall wire

Feb 8, 2019, 2:45 PM
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)...
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

PHOENIX — An Arizona congressman who represents a district along the U.S.-Mexico border called on the federal government to remove wire that is located in a heavily trafficked area.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva said in a letter to the heads of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense that razor wire that covers the entirety of a downtown Nogales border wall is a safety hazard to residents and violates the town’s code.

“The town’s code prohibits the use of razor wire except in industrial areas and storage parks, and when used it must be at least six feet above the ground,” Grijalva wrote.

“The razor wire along the border wall is ground level and would cause serious injury to anyone who touches it.”

The Democrat, who represents the state’s third congressional district, also said he supported the town’s resolution condemning the wire that was passed on Wednesday.

“Forcing them to act as a photo opportunity to reinforce the false narrative of rampant lawlessness at the border promulgated by the president is nothing short of ridiculous,” the letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan read.

“I urge you to take the safety and concerns of Nogales residents into consideration and remove this needless wire.”

The town, which sits across the border from Nogales, Mexico, in the resolution threatened to sue the federal government unless all concertina wire installed within the city limits was 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.

Soldiers have installed concertina wire at or near several official crossings at the border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said the new horizontal layers of razor wire were added at a request for additional support, but did not say who made the request.

In a statement Wednesday night, the CBP said the request was for “high-risk urban areas commonly exploited by criminal smuggling organizations.”

In late November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the military had sent 36 miles (58 kilometers) 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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Arizona congressman calls for removal of border wall wire