People Keep Cutting Through Trump’s Border Wall

Vaunted barrier can be sawed open in minutes.

Matt York/AP

Earlier this year President Donald J. Trump, the noted classicist and civil engineer, told an audience assembled near the Mexican border that millennia of human history has shown that “there are some things that work…and a wall works. Nothing like a wall.”

Alas, a new report from the Washington Post suggests that Trump’s vaunted border wall is… not a thing that works. This should come as no surprise—as long as there have been walls, there have been people going around, over, under, or through them. According to Border Patrol agents and construction experts familiar with the barrier, Trump’s new wall design doesn’t sound hard to overcome, as people have already proven, again and again:

The breaches have been made using a popular cordless household tool known as a reciprocating saw that retails at hardware stores for as little as $100. When fitted with specialized blades, the saws can slice through one of the barrier’s steel-and-concrete bollards in a matter of minutes…smugglers can push the steel out of the way, allowing an adult to fit through the gap. Because the bollards are so tall—and are attached only to a panel at the very top—their length makes them easier to push aside…

Administration officials argue the wall still provides a helpful barrier in conjunction with remote monitoring and boots on the ground, but no one expects that it will stop smugglers from illegally crossing. 

“The cartels will continue to innovate, and they’re not just going to leave San Diego because the wall gets better,” says Ronald Vitiello, a former chief of U.S. Border Patrol and acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the Post.

Joshua Holmes, a Border Patrol agent and union official, agreed, telling the paper: “What happens any time some barrier is thrown up in front of a business is they adapt, and that’s all they’re trying to do.”


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Give a Year of the Truth

at our special holiday rate

just $12

Order Now

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.