Parts of the Trump administration’s new “wall system” at the U.S.-Mexico border are 90 percent “effective,” up from just 10 percent, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said.
“It changes everything,” CBP Chief Rodney Scott said of the 135 miles of new wall, roadways, and high-tech spyware.
“There is a huge return on investment,” Scott said at a press briefing.
Scott said that the new wall system has essentially ended illegal crossings of humans and cars in the San Diego area.
The new wall system, Scott said, is especially good at stopping trucks and cars because it now takes too much time and effort to cut through wall sections to make an opening big enough to drive through.
“The border wall system all but stopped that completely,” Scott said.
As a result, drug cartels have changed tactics and resorted to building expensive tunnels and trying to sneak drugs in on vehicles passing through border entry points. But that isn’t effective, Scott said.
“It shut down that entire threat. Anywhere we built the border wall system, the first thing it does is shut off those drive-throughs. The second thing is, it shuts off massive amounts of people coming through at the same time. So, it’s forced the drug cartels, especially El Chapo’s group, Sinaloa, to shift tactics,” the CBP chief said.
Scott said that some areas near ports of entry are enjoying economic boosts because they are safer due to the new system. Scott said one example is San Ysidro, California, where a new factory outlet mall had created $6.6 million in local tax revenue and led to the construction of a pricey housing development.
The beachfront Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, which suffered during the drug wars and human trafficking, is also improving.
“Near the beach, it’s safe. That whole area is coming back,” said Scott, adding, “The entire ecosystem … is coming back.”
CBP Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz said that, in areas of Texas with the new wall system, border agents are reporting similar success. He said that in one area of South Texas with 55 miles of new wall, just 4 to 5 percent of illegal trafficking passes through. Before, he said, 90 percent got through.
“This system is going to have a huge impact,” Ortiz said.
The new system also requires 150 fewer border agents, a savings of $28 million in salaries and benefits, said Scott, who took over as CBP chief in January.
Scott added that improved roads near the border will allow vehicles that once fell apart at 40,000-60,000 miles to now last 100,000 miles before they are auctioned off.
“There is return after return,” said Scott.
In a March 2 tweet, Scott noted: 131 miles completed; 208 miles under construction; 414 miles in pre-construction.”