YUMA, AZ — The Biden administration has given U.S. Customs and Border Protection the go-ahead to close gaps near the Morelos Dam to protect migrants crossing.
The ABC15 crew descended into the area where four holes will be closed, in front of the Morelos Dam, an area known to locals as “The Gap”.
Dennis Cook and his wife have moved to the farthest point of 16th Street, which takes you directly to the Yuma border wall.
“Half a mile down there’s a big gap,” he said, pointing to several gaps not far from home.
The couple moved here nine years ago because of the available space.
“I owned a wrecking yard and I love my trash,” Cook said.
However, by the time they moved…
“The wall didn’t exist…and they were crossing right here near my house,” he told ABC15.
They often saw migrants walking at all hours of the day and night.
“[They asked for] water from time to time. We had children who wanted food.
After construction of the border wall began, Cook noticed that the number of migrants crossing began to dwindle from the thousands he was seeing each week. Many are looking for one thing:
“They wanted to leave their country to have a better life,” he added.
As we recorded the gaps along the border, we noticed a woman and her child waiting on the American side.
“Why did you come here?” we asked.
“In Honduras there are no jobs and there is a lot of crime,” she said in Spanish.
Mayra Lopez is fleeing an abusive situation at home.
“How old is your little girl? ” we asked.
“She is four years old. She will be five in October,” she replied.
Mayra seeks asylum in the United States and a better future for her children.
Her son stayed home in Honduras.
“Are you waiting for the Border Patrol to come?” ABC15 asked.
“Yeah, so they can treat me,” May replied.
Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines says it’s a step in the right direction.
“In these areas we see an average of 1,000 people a day and specifically around the Morales Dam area,” Lines said.
Adding these gap reductions will allow Border Patrol to scale back its efforts to continue to provide border security, while helping to protect migrants at the same time.
“We had a five-year-old child who drowned earlier this month, who was separated from his family as they walked through the water. And then three to five deaths per week in (the) Yuma sector by passers-by. These are tragic numbers,” the Yuma County Supervisor told ABC15.
The Department of Homeland Security said the Yuma Morelos Dam project will fill four gaps located in an “incomplete border barrier project” near the dam.
According to Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls, there are dozens more gaps that still need to be filled.
“You know they apparently want a better life for their child. I really don’t blame these people for wanting to come here. I really wish they would do it legally,” Cook said.