Elliot Spagat, AP, November 19, 2008
The Border Patrol has finished installing razor-sharp barbed wire atop a 5-mile stretch of fence on the Mexican border, an addition critics call heavy-handed and an eyesore.
Agents say the concertino wire on a violent stretch separating San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico, has already contributed to a sharp drop in attacks by assailants hurling rocks, bricks and sometimes even exploding bottles of gas.
Without the wire, migrants could jump the fence in only 15 seconds. But it now takes several minutes for them to cut a hole in the fence using handheld, battery-powered saws, Corley said.
Mexico’s consul general in San Diego, Remedios Gomez Arnau, said efforts by Mexican authorities to prevent attacks on border agents may explain the drop in violence, not the razor wire. She said the Border Patrol rejected her plea to reconsider installing the wiring.
The 5-mile stretch is the only place on the U.S.-Mexico border with razor wiring on top of the fence, and there are no plans to use it elsewhere, said Border Patrol spokesman Lloyd Easterling.
The counterattacks have diminished, according to the Border Patrol, as the more formidable fencing appears to have pushed border crossers elsewhere, heralding a welcome calm for many who live in the shanties.
Many [attacks on border agents] occurred in the San Diego area, but the Border Patrol said attacks dropped in the 5-mile stretch where the razor-wire was installed. It counted 90 attacks on agents in the 11 months after installation began Dec. 17, compared to 184 in the preceding 11 months.
Apprehensions in the 5-mile stretch dropped 53 percent during that time to 3,746 from 7,989, the Border Patrol said. Corley said the fencing has pushed migrants west toward the Pacific Ocean—and resulted in more attacks against agents in that area.