- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2014

A rainstorm knocked over part of the border fence in Arizona this weekend, even as smugglers were cutting their way through another part of the fence less than a few miles away — leaving a hole big enough to drive a vehicle through, according to the Nogales International.

Contractors were using blow torches to patch the fence Monday, the paper reported — but the reporter said there didn’t appear to be any special precautions taken to step up patrols near the breach.

“Border walls obviously aren’t working,” said Dan Millis, borderlands program coordinator for the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Instead they just cause problems with flooding, fragment habitat and block wildlife migration corridors. It’s time for real solutions.”

The rains caused a 60-foot section of the wall to fall over after floodwaters backed up on one side, he said.

After previous flooding, authorities cut holes in a number of places in the border fence in Arizona. But the gates in Nogales were apparently closed during the recent storm.

Authorities have also regularly had to defend against smugglers who have found ways to circumvent or defeat the fences — including building ramps over it, tunneling under it or, in the case of this weekend, cutting a hole in it.

The Nogales International reported that when built, the 2.8-mile section of fencing through town was supposed to be tougher to cut through than the previous version, taking 15 minutes for each tube.

“By that math, if the person who cut the fence on Saturday were acting alone, the 16 total cuts would have taken about four hours to complete,” the paper reported.

The border fence has been controversial for years. President Obama’s 2006 vote in favor of it caused deep friction with immigrant-rights advocates, and opponents argued it was easily circumvented, and amounted to a waste of money.

About 350 miles of the border have full fencing, and senators included money for an additional 350 miles of fencing in their broad immigration bill, which cleared that chamber last year but which has stalled in the House.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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