The Trump administration finally has made good on promises to exact payments from the Mexican government in response to illegal immigration efforts to the United States from Mexico.
According to a Washington Examiner report published Wednesday, American officials have received financial penalties totaling about $1,300, including one fine from the first successful border crossing prosecution outsourced to Mexico under a newly instituted bilateral immigration agreement.
Officially reached one year ago this week, the arrangement allows the U.S. government to extradite all individuals arrested for damaging physical barriers on the southwest border while retaining the right to any fine paid by the violator.
Gloria Chavez, a U.S. Border Patrol chief formerly overseeing zones surrounding El Centro, California, said the first fine collected was for about $600.
“The person paid the fine in lieu of going to jail in Mexico for damaging the border wall,” Chavez said, according to the Examiner.
The Mexican government collected the money and sent it to U.S. authorities.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection spent $396,000 to repair the southwestern border in fiscal 2019, according to the Examiner, with cuts made to the region’s physical barriers daily — usually with the use of wire cutters or welding equipment.
In just one year, those individuals cuts are said to have totaled about 1,300.
“When I saw that number, I said, ‘Absolutely not. We have to do something more about this. We have to hold these people accountable that are cutting our border fence,'” Chavez told the Examiner.
“Look at the money that we are spending. These are U.S. dollars that we are spending in trying to fix the mesh fencing.”
— Jaime Chambers (@jaimechambers) September 27, 2017
With several border districts operating under the bilateral agreement, $1,273 has been paid to U.S. authorities across four separate instances, according to the Examiner. The Mexican judicial system has 15 similar cases pending.
Recent damage done to weaker mesh and scrap-metal barriers raised over the decades by past administrations is believed by some to be the result of bottle-necking caused by Trump administration efforts to lay more than 400 miles of new steel fencing — some parts as high as 30 feet — over the past year.
“The height of the fence is a deterrent in of itself,” Anthony Porvaznik, Border Patrol chief of the Yuma, Arizona, district, told the Examiner. “The footing keeps people from burrowing under.”
Trump long has promised stronger enforcement of U.S. immigration law, as the construction of an enhanced physical barrier on the border topped his 2016 presidential campaign platform.
Upon taking office, the president was hamstrung in efforts to accomplish such an agenda, however, because of a slew of legal and legislative funding challenges not lessened by the divergent priorities of the Republican establishment.
When funding and labor were finally secured for measures such as barrier construction, the administration was left with little more than a year to make headway in the current term.
A potential Biden administration would, of course, roll back Trump-era progress on stricter immigration policy, with the Democratic Party seemingly united around increased importation of refugees and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
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