After years of touting the impenetrability of a border wall, President Donald Trump said Saturday that "you can cut through any wall" as reports surfaced of smugglers sawing through newly erected barriers with readily available power tools.
"We have a very powerful wall. But no matter how powerful, you can cut through anything, in all fairness. But we have a lot of people watching. You know cutting, cutting is one thing, but it's easily fixed. One of the reasons we did it the way we did it, it's very easily fixed. You put the chunk back in," Trump said.
A Washington Post report published Saturday said smugglers have repeatedly sawed through newly built sections of the wall using a widely available cordless reciprocating saw that costs as little as $100. Gangs are also using makeshift ladders to scale the barriers, the Post reported.
Trump's statement is a far cry from years of campaigning that a border wall would be nearly impossible for smugglers to overcome. In a visit to one of the construction sites in September, Trump said the border wall is "virtually impenetrable" and could not be climbed.
Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security said tests showed the steel bollard design could be cut through. Immigration officials have been careful to note that no border wall is impenetrable, but instead is designed to impede the efforts of smugglers.
"The bollards are not the most evolved design; they are the most evolved that we could pay for," Ronald Vitiello, former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the Post. "We never said they would be an end-all, be-all."
Acting Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters Tuesday that officials have completed 76 miles of new border wall in 2019, and that he expects 450 new miles of barrier by the end of 2020.