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Nogales city leaders protest additional razor wire installed along border

Nogales Border Concertina Wire Fence AP Photo
Posted at 1:40 PM, Feb 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-06 15:40:00-05

NOGALES, AZ — Officials in a small Arizona border city are decrying the installation of new razor wire that now covers the entirety of a tall border wall through downtown.

The city council in Nogales, which sits on the border with Nogales, Mexico, is set to consider a proclamation Wednesday night condemning the use of concertina wire. It follows reports that U.S. military troops installed more horizontal layers of the wire along the downtown border fence over the weekend.

The vote also comes one day after President Donald Trump made his case to the American people about the need for a border wall to protect the nation and how he has ordered an additional 3,750 troops to prepare for what he called a "tremendous onslaught."

Concertina wire has become the most visible sign of Trump's deployment of thousands of troops to the border amid anxieties about a Central American caravan around the time of the midterm elections.

Soldiers have installed concertina wire at or near several official crossings, or ports of entry, at the U.S.-Mexico border. In late November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the military had sent 36 miles (58 kilometers) of concertina wire for use in California, Arizona, and Texas.

RELATED: Mexican police find tunnel in Nogales, Sonora

At the start of November, soldiers in Texas installed lines of wire coils below a major bridge near McAllen, Texas, along the U.S. side of the border.

Photos published by the Nogales International show six rows of concertina wire stacked along the approximately two-story wall.

Nogales, a city of about 20,000 people, is a fraction of the size of the Mexican city, but its economy is largely reliant on Mexican shoppers and cross-border trade. Illegal crossings in that area have dropped steeply in the past several years.

Mayor Arturo Garino told the paper that he asked U.S. Sen. Martha McSally to help the city have the wire removed during a visit to the border last month.

"That wire is lethal, and I really don't know what they're thinking by putting it all the way down to the ground," he said Monday.

Neither Garino nor a spokeswoman for McSally returned messages from The Associated Press. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Defense also did not respond to inquiries about why additional wire was installed over the weekend.

City leaders were critical of military exercises at the border during the holiday season, saying they believed it scared shoppers during one of the busiest times of the year.

The proclamation the city council is scheduled to vote on says concertina wire is typically something found in battlefields, and that placing it along the entirety of the border fence is "not only irresponsible but inhuman."

In a tweet, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat, called the additional wire a stunt by the Trump administration, which he said is "trying to create the perception of rampant lawlessness and crime."

Information released by the federal government shows the number of arrests by the Border Patrol is the lowest since the early 1970s, while the number of agents has more than doubled.

Over 1.6 million arrests were made by just about 9,200 agents nationwide in the 2000. But those figures tapered off as the government dramatically increased staffing and resources like more surveillance technology and tall, steel fencing.

By last fiscal year, about 19,000 Border Patrol agents made 310,000 arrests.