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Yuma’s border wall gaps remain open

The Department of Homeland Security announced plans to close them 6 months ago - FOX 9's Adam Klepp reports

YUMA, Ariz. (KECY, KYMA) - June 20th marks six months since the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to close open gaps in the Yuma Sector border wall.

But nothing has been done since then.

Yuma’s wall gaps have become a symbol of the border crisis and a point of confusion for locals I’ve met at the wall.

“I'm just sad the wall wasn’t finished," Bill Bentley told me on May 25th.

According to Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls the gaps are of the reasons yuma has seen the biggest percentage increase in migrant encounters of any U.S. border sector.

As he says migrants go to Mexicali, but don’t cross into the walled-off El Centro sector.

“They’re traveling the additional 60 miles to get to the yuma sector and cross here,” Nicholls said.

On President Biden’s first day in office, he signed an executive order stopping wall construction.

The unused border wall is piled near County 8th street in the Yuma Sector.

But on December 20th of 2021, DHS announced it'd be closing small gaps which quote “remain open from prior construction activities."

Arizona Senator Mark Kelly has been pushing the Biden Administration to complete the wall locally and says it’s a concern the gaps remain open 6 months later.

With a spokesperson for the senator saying in a statement to News 11:

“Senator Kelly believes there is no excuse for the Biden administration’s delay, and he continues to push them to quickly close the gaps that pose security challenges for Border Patrol and our border communities.”

-Spokesperson for Arizona Senator Mark Kelly

Last month DHS announced Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had approved multiple specific construction projects at the border, including “closing a small gap in the yuma sector”.

The wording is concerning for Mayor Nicholls.

“The latest release from the secretary’s office talks about one gap in yuma being closed. Well there’s 52 gaps,” Nicholls said.

Nicholls says if just one gap is closed, that will push migrants to cross somewhere else into the Yuma Sector. 

Nicholls adds it's not what he and Secretary Mayorkas discussed during his visit to Yuma in January.

“I thought the discussion was to close all the gaps, not just one,” Nicholls said.

I reached out to local Border Patrol, which declined to comment on how the gaps impact their operations, but added they did not have any information on when construction could start.

The Department of Homeland Security did not yet respond for comment about whether wall construction plans in Yuma would include filling in the over 50 gaps, or just one.

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Adam Klepp

Adam Klepp is excited to start his first job in the broadcast news industry as the FOX9 at 9 anchor and as a reporter at 5 and 6 on News 11.

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