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Construction on Morelos Dam border gaps to begin this week

CBP MORELOS GAP .png
US Border Patrol
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US Customs and Border Protection tells KAWC construction on permanent barriers on four gaps near the Morelos Dam will begin this week, and should be completed by summer.

State construction crews took down the last of state-erected container barricades on January 4th. CBP says new fencing will not only replace those barriers, but will also better tie into existing infrastructure.

The Morelos Dam area is considered a high priority are because of its proximity to the Colorado River, and the dangers the river poses to immigrants and Border Patrol Agents alike. CBP says filling the gaps will reduce drowning risks to both.

New Acting Yuma Sector Chief Agent Patricia McGurk-Daniel says her agents will continue to closely monitor the area during the construction and will continue to arrest illegal crossers.

Chief McGurk-Daniel also reaffirmed CBP’s commitment to existing partnerships in a statement released Saturday, writing quote:

“The safety and security or our workforce, law enforcement partners, and the local community are a top priority. Yuma Sector is dedicated to working with our state, local, and tribal counterparts to ensure a multi layered approach to secure our nation’s borders and protect our local community.”

Senator Mark Kelly, (D - Ariz.), has been working on getting the gaps closed since first winning election. In August, he came to Yuma to announce the bidding process had begun for federal border fencing projects. At that time, he told KAWC, he expected the construction to begin sometime in January of 2023. CBP's announcement brings his efforts to some fruition.

In a statement released Monday morning the Senator writes:

“From day one, I’ve been pushing the Biden administration to address the crisis at our southern border including closing barrier gaps that make it tougher for Border Patrol agents to do their jobs. I’m glad that after many months of urging the White House to fix this issue, construction is finally starting to permanently close these gaps in Yuma. While this is a step in the right direction, there is more work to do to ensure an orderly, secure, and humane border response. I’ll keep working to make sure the administration is listening to the needs of Arizona’s border communities. I’ll continue pushing the administration to quickly complete this project,”

Kelly will be part of a delegation of Senators coming to Yuma Tuesday to survey the situation along the county's southern border. The Senators will also meet with local leaders, law enforcement, and nonprofit organizations to see how the federal government can better assist them in handling the influx of immigrants.

Lisa Sturgis’ return to KAWC brings her journalistic career full circle. Uncle Bob Hardy gave Lisa her first exposures to reporting back in the 1980s. She went on to spend more than three decades in TV news before making the decision to come home to NPR.