Arizona Border Town Condemns Feds for Unwanted, 'Inhuman' Razor Wire

"We are used to seeing the federal government make decisions about our surroundings," one resident said.


Bob Torrez/ZUMA Press/Newscom

An Arizona border city has officially condemned the federal government's unwanted implementation of razor wire on the border fence separating the town from Mexico.

According to the resolution unanimously passed yesterday by the seven members of the Nogales, Arizona, City Council, "placing coiled concertina wire strands on the ground is typically only found in a war, battlefield, or prison setting, and not in an urban setting." Such wire, in addition to generally being banned by the city code, is "designed to inflict serious bodily injury or death," the resolution claims. Putting it "in the immediate proximity" of Nogales residents is "inhuman." As a result, Nogales is telling the federal government to immediately remove the razor wire that's currently within its city limits.

The wire started going up in November, after President Donald Trump sent troops to the border to aid Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agents. Sending the military to secure the border with razor wire didn't make a whole lot of sense at the time, as Reason's Eric Boehm explained.

That apparently didn't stop the military from putting up even more razor wire in Nogales on Saturday. Photos published by Nogales International and other outlets show that in some areas, there are now as many as six rows of wire covering the border fence:

Some locals were not pleased. "I don't know what to say, I don't think it's good," José Corralez, a 54-year-old taxi driver, told Nogales International. "In Nogales we are used to seeing the federal government make decisions about our surroundings," added Evan Kory, whose family owns several stores in the area, to the Arizona Daily Star. "But the razor wire was way more aggressive than anything we had seen, which scared me. It felt like it was out of our hands as a border community. You feel powerless, like your voices aren't heard," Kory said.

Yesenea Leal, who owns a store right next to the fence, suggested the wire isn't even working. "It's all the same," she told Nogales International. "They're going to jump," Leal added , showing the outlet a photo of a carpet that someone had thrown over the border fence to avoid the wire.

"This is overkill," Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino told the Washington Post, suggesting that the fence itself should be enough. "It's way over the top."

Garino has perhaps been the town's most outspoken advocate against the razor wire. "Aesthetically pleasing—it's not. It's very bad. It's not good for business, it's not good for what we're trying to create, a business-friendly community here in Nogales," he explained to the Associated Press.

Garino met with three CBP agents yesterday to discuss the matter. He claims they defended the razor wire by referencing the "rapists, murderers and drug dealers" who are supposedly trying to cross the border. "But that was strange, because the police chief, assistant chief and deputy city manager were there, and we don't know of those things happening," Garino told the Post. "I don't know where they're getting their stats."

So why the extra wire? CBP said in a statement to the AP that an unidentified party requested "additional support in high-risk urban areas commonly exploited by criminal smuggling organizations."

Councilman Marcelino Varona, Jr. has a different theory. The wire was installed "just to make a point at our expense," he said at the city council meeting yesterday, according to Nogales International.

Garino, meanwhile, claims that of the feds don't comply with the resolution, the city might file a lawsuit, reported the AP.