New border fence complete in Douglas
Six mile barrier replaces old fence that was easier to climbPhoto: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
DOUGLAS, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - Border protection goes to new heights in Douglas, where Border Patrol has finished a new 18 foot high fence on the border. The fence makes illegal crossings tougher, but it's not a perfect solution.
The new border fence in Douglas covers six miles of border. It stands eighteen feet high so it's hard to go over, and sinks between six and eight feet deep so it's hard to tunnel under.
The new fence cost about 14 and a half million dollars. Contractors finished it in six months instead of seven as originally planned.
Besides being taller, it's made of much tougher steel. The fence that went up in Douglas more than 20 years ago was made out of pieces of lightweight steel originally meant for temporary airfields. They were fairly easy to cut through.
Border patrol Agent Ulysses Duronslet says the bollard design with tightly spaced verticals is meant to be hard to get through, but easy to see through.
"It gives us a better assessment of what's approaching from the Mexican side as far as threats."
The fence's see-through quality figured into an incident in Nogales where the fence has a similar design.
Late last month, an agent guarding a drug load found on the U.S. side fired toward the fence after being pelted with rocks---a situation Border Patrol regards as life-threatening.
The bullet went through the fence and wounded a suspect on the Mexican side.
Cochise County ranchers have been especially concerned about drug and people smugglers crossing through their land.
Patrick Bray of the Arizona Cattlemen's Association thinks a tougher fence in Douglas may push more smugglers into rural areas as they by-pass the fence.
Bray hopes if the tougher fence frees Border Patrol Agents to deploy elsewhere they'll still stay right on the border, instead of current plans that set agents looking for illegal entrants many miles from the border.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Bray, "So right there at the line as opposed to let them come to them 20, 30 miles inland?"
Bray: "Correct. They break the law when they cross the line, so whatever we can do to stop them from doing that and preventing that, it saves us in the long run, they never break the law. If they do we catch them immediately, they're not able to break several laws while they're here; and it keeps our people safe and in the long run it probably saves the American taxpayers' dollars because we're not processing through the system and sending them back."