by Lorraine Rivera
LUKEVILLE - The steel mesh pedestrian fence at the Lukeville Port of Entry is just more than five miles long.
"You can see where they come through with cutters and just cut that thing." Patrol Agent Devin Reno is the Community Outreach Officer at the Ajo Border Patrol Station.
He said, "I don't know if you can see down there, you can see the footprints we track." He points through a rectangle cut out, measuring about 18 by 7 inches, in the mesh fence less than a tenth of a mile from the Lukeville Port of Entry.
He says this is one of the many ways illegal immigrants are trying to get across the border.
"These individual cuts, where they come in and cut the fence, that's what we call a breach," says Reno. "Any where we have a cut in the vehicle barricade or fencing of any kind we call it a breach."
There is an operation in place to address the problem.
Reno walks along a stretch of the fence and points to markings. "Each date is a date that they made a repair here. And then the actual grid coordinates, so that the Army Corp of Engineers knows where to go to make the repair."
Contractors for the Army Corp of Engineers respond with welding gear and materials. They cut panels of steel mesh and weld it over the hole.
From the Ajo Station, Border Patrol agents report, on average, two breaches a day.
"It's very frustrating because every time there's a cut here. There's got to be a guy sitting and watching that particular hole. And in the meantime, half a mile up the road we can have another guy making a cut."
That is why the contractors must respond within 24 hours to make the fix.
News 4 talked to several people working in Lukeville and Why about the issue. They tell us the illegal immigrants come in and head north as quickly as possible.
"Yes sir. They just go by," says Sam Montes who has lived in Why for 4 years. "There's no business around here. We got nothing to lose here."
While some do not feel an immediate threat in the area, the struggle goes on to patch up with the breaches and to keep the border secure.