Southern Arizona sheriff says border security equipment going to waste
PHOENIX – A southern Arizona sheriff said Tuesday that some equipment purchased to make the border more secure and improve safety for migrants isn’t being used.
“A lot of this technology that was already bought is just laying in a yard for the past year and a half and hasn’t been put up for our Border Patrol partners to be able to utilize that infrastructure,” Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.
Wilmot said the unused equipment includes fiber optic cable, lighting systems, sensors and gates.
“Unfortunately, we’ve already experienced over 36 people die in our desert trekking across the remote areas of Yuma County and we weren’t able to make it because the cartels are exploiting them,” he said.
Wilmot said the Border Patrol has let the Biden administration know it needs the technology and that there are openings in the fence that need to be closed.
“You’ve got the gates that are out there that are laying on the ground that could be utilized, and we’re talking 30 miles away from civilization, where there are no gates. So it’s just an open door in these remote areas,” he said.
Wilmot said cartels are taking advantage of situation to smuggle more drugs, including fentanyl, and people into the country.
Migrant crossing attempts are surging across the U.S.-Mexico border, but the largest increase by far has been in southwestern Arizona, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics.
Immigration authorities reported about 149,000 migrant encounters in the Yuma Sector during the first six months of fiscal year 2022 (October 2021-March 2022), a whopping 589% increase from the first half of the previous fiscal year, according to data released last month.
“We’ve already handled over 480 911 calls from illegal immigrants that have been abandoned out in the desert since this administration has come in and enforced their new policies,” Wilmot said.