Yuma Border Patrol Station
Aerial Border Survey - March 22, 2007
Available on DVD
This aerial survey of the border patrolled by the Yuma Border Patrol Station is the most comprehensive to date. It begins at the eastern end of the Goldwater Air Force Range and ends at the Colorado River.
The survey was performed using a Cessna TU-206 with two cameras pointing out the cargo bay. A Sony HDR-FX HD video camera records each foot of the border whereas a Canon EOS-1 DS camera with a stabilized 100-400mm zoom lens is used for still shots.
The aircraft is equipped with a Garmin 296 GPS Map system that provides terrain clearance information and logging information. Each time a still shot is made its number is noted on the video audio along with the associated Garmin GPS mark. This allows the photograph to be associated with a precise geographical location.
The first twenty-four miles of the survey saw only an open border with hundreds of north-south vehicles tracks.
Mexican highway 2 runs parallel to and 3/4 mile south of the border for most of the 48 miles of the survey. This is a popular route for migrant travel and it is a simple matter for people to be dropped off along the highway so they can head north on foot.
At the eastern edge of the survey Interstate 8 is 25 miles north of the border. Younger migrants can make such a hike in one night.
Twenty-four miles into the survey, or about half way across, the survey team encountered construction crews erecting a vehicle barrier. This barrier continued west for another eight miles until a construction crew was observed adding 14 foot-high see-through paneling to the vehicle barrier. It was assumed that this paneling was designed to stop people. This people barrier continued for about one half mile when the fence returned to the vehicle barrier configuration.
The vehicle barrier continued for another five miles when the people fence version re-appeared. This time the people barrier consisted of steel matting similar to that used in other places such as Naco and Douglas Arizona.
The mat-type people barrier continued for another nine miles to the Colorado River border. Two and one half miles of this fence included a second barrier featuring the fourteen-foot see-through panels as a second layer.
At no time did the survey crew observe any NO TRESPASSING signs or warning signs that a military bombing range lay to the north.
This survey found vehicle and people barriers. There has been talk of adding a virtual fence in this area but no evidence of such a system was seen. Future surveys will look for this evidence.
The vehicles barriers are easily accessible from Mexico Highway 2, but inaccessible from within the United States. Only one Border Patrol vehicle was seen in over 40 miles of the) survey. It would be a simple matter for a Mexican vehicle to pull off highway 2, drive up to the vehicle barrier and, using a cutting torch, hack it off in a few minutes.
It would take a Border Patrol vehicle at least an hour to reach the eastern end of the survey area, if they knew vandalism was taking place.Vehicles could then drive through for hours, if not days, before repairs could be affected.
Vehicles could also drive south to the border from Interstate 8 and pick up passengers who walk through the vehicle barrier.
Most of the people barrier was of the single-layered fourteen-foot mat type construction. This approach has proven to be totally ineffective in places such as Naco and Douglas, Arizona.
On the border that runs north and south along the Colorado River to the California border, there is no fence at all. This sixteen-mile segment was being guarded by thirteen National Guard lookout posts. The southern east-west border south of Yuma found only one guard outpost. It is assumed that the difference is due to the fence along the southern border.
Construction of the barrier along the border south and east of Yuma is a good first-step, but it is just a start. DHS should construct a double fence as was specified in the Secure Fence Act of 2006. This should include a high-speed road between the barriers. (Environmentalists have no reason to complain about a road as Mexican highway 2 already runs along the border in the survey area.)
Fence construction should be closely monitored to chart progress over time. ABP will repeat this survey at the end of April and will report the results.