Activists search for answers as new construction materials appear at the U.S.-Mexico border

Published: Monday, September 12, 2022 - 5:21pm
Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2022 - 8:20am
Audio icon Download mp3 (1.11 MB)

Activists say they’re worried new materials arriving at sites along the U.S.-Mexico border could mean wall construction is resuming.

The federal government announced it would be doing remediation construction along several parts of the Arizona borderland earlier this year — things like addressing road erosion, fixing storm gates and filling gaps in the existing wall. 

Dora Rodriguez is an immigrant rights advocate and the founder of the aid group Salvavision Rescue Arizona who makes weekly humanitarian trips to the border in Sasabe, a rural area southwest of Tucson. She says she and other volunteers often run into families waiting at those gaps, often in remote parts of the Altar Valley, for the Border Patrol to arrive.

"We have noticed large numbers of Cubans crossing in that area, but it's very, very far south, the smugglers just drop them off there, and tell them, 'someone will find you,'" she said. "But what we know is that the Border Patrol does not patrol that area, many times ... we have found them them and we call Border Patrol, to say, 'hey, you've got some people here.'"

Rodriguez says areas where gaps currently exist near Sasabe are already hard to reach. She worries closing them will just send people into deeper wilderness areas, especially as border policies like Title 42 severely restrict the ability to ask for asylum at a port of entry.

"My concern is if they do finish and close all those border gaps, we are going to continue to see more deaths in our desert ... this is not going to stop people from trying to cross or ... get to American soil and ask for asylum because this is what we see now that they're not allowed to go to the port of entry."

Rodriguez says over the last few months, she’s seen new construction vehicles and materials arriving at the border. 

She and other activists plan to ask for details on what's next during a webinar about the remediation project hosted by Customs and Border Protection later this week.

More stories from KJZZ

Fronteras Immigration Southwest Border