Smuggling gangs have sawed through new portions of Trump border wall: report

Mexican smuggling gangs have repeatedly sawed through new sections of President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE’s border wall with commonly available power tools and have created large enough openings for people and drugs to pass through, The Washington Post reported.

U.S. agents and officials with knowledge of the damage told the Post that the gaps have been made using a popular cordless reciprocating saw that can be purchased at hardware stores for as little as $100. When fitted with specialized blades, the tool can cut through one of the wall’s steel and concrete bollards in minutes.

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Engineers told the newspaper that smugglers can push the steel out of the way after cutting through the base of a single bollard and that the height of the bollard makes it easier to push aside after the cut has been made. 

Nearly a dozen agents and current and former administration officials said crews have adopted other methods of breaching the wall, including building makeshift ladders, particularly in and around San Diego, which is a popular smuggling area.

Some of the breaches have reportedly occurred in areas where electronic sensors, which would be able to swiftly detect vibrations from tools such as saws on the bollards, have not yet been installed.

The government has not previously discussed the breaches, and it was not immediately clear how many times the smuggling crews have breached the wall. A senior administration official told the Post that they counted “a few instances” and maintained that the new fencing has “significantly increased security and deterrence” along sections of the border in the San Diego and El Centro areas in California.

The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.

The border wall was a chief promise of Trump during his campaign in 2016 and continues to be a staple of his 2020 reelection bid as he works to cast his policies as a bulwark against unchecked illegal border crossings.

However, the number of unauthorized border crossings still reached nearly 1 million in fiscal 2019.