Thousands of migrants have been walking across the U.S.-Mexico border using floodgates that were welded open in Arizona, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.
U.S. officials welded open 114 gates along the Arizona-Mexico border near Tucson to allow water to flow freely during the annual rainy season and to allow for the migration of an endangered species of antelope, officials say. The gates, which have been open for almost two months, have 12-foot-wide doors.
However, migrants have been using the gates to walk across the border without any interference from Border Patrol agents. An estimated 1,400 undocumented migrants have been crossing through the floodgates every single day, the report continued.
“We thought the agents were going to tell us something,” an Ecuadorean migrant said in an interview with the New York Post. “But we just walked in.”
“Nothing like our journey through Mexico. That part was hard,” said another migrant, from Cuba. “I thought there was going to be more security.”
Smugglers have learned about the floodgates and have been dropping off busloads of undocumented migrants at the Mexican side of the border near the gates. Once there, the migrants simply walk to the U.S. side and then turn themselves into border agents to claim asylum.
In recent months, the Tucson border post has become one of the busiest points of entry in the country.
Last month, 42,561 undocumented migrants were encountered along the Tucson border, surpassing El Paso and Laredo in Texas, which saw 24,325 and 26,627 respectively.
According to Border Patrol officials, they received orders to open the gates from several federal agencies, including the National Park Service.
With the delay in the rainy season and no water to flow past the gates, migrants were left with a dry path to access the U.S.
“We tried to shut the gates but the order came down that we had to leave them open,” one source told the Post. “You wouldn’t leave the front door of your house open in a bad neighborhood.”