What do you get when you put three Mexican nationals atop a 30-foot steel border wall covered in condensation and surrounded by fog?
A rescue crew from the U.S. Border Patrol, a ladder truck from the San Diego Fire Department, and a one-way ticket back across the border.
The wall is no joke – a lesson illegal immigrants near Otay Mesa, California learned the hard way when smugglers left them hanging on the precarious perch Sunday night.
On Jan. 5, just after midnight, agents & SD fire dept. rescued 3 subjects that had become stuck atop the 30ft. border wall. The Mex. nationals were safely lowered to the ground & arrested by #USBP. Smugglers place an emphasis on profits over safety. Thankfully no one was injured. pic.twitter.com/FTMQWBqaXk
— Chief Patrol Agent Douglas E. Harrison (@USBPChiefSDC) January 7, 2020
“On Jan. 5, just after midnight, agents & SD fore dept. rescued 3 subjects that had become stuck atop the 30ft. border wall,” USBP Chief Patrol Agent Douglas E Harrison posted to Twitter this week, along with pictures from the rescue.
“The Mex. nationals were safely lowered to the ground & arrested by #USBP. Smugglers place an emphasis on profits over safety,” he wrote. “Thankfully no one was injured.”
USBP went into a little more detail in a news release on Tuesday:
The event began at approximately midnight on January 5, when agents on patrol near Otay Mesa saw three people in a precarious situation. A man and two 2women, under the cover of dense fog, tried to enter the U.S. illegally by climbing Sand Diego Sector’s new 30-foot, steel bollard wall. The trio became stuck at the top of the wet, slippery wall after smugglers abandoned them.
Due to the danger of the situation, agents requested the assistance of the San Diego Fire Department in order to get them down safely. SDFD used their ladder truck to remove the three people from the wall without injury. Once on the ground, agents questioned the group about their nationality and all three were Mexican nationals illegally present in the U.S.
The individuals, a 36-year-old male, a 20-year-old female, and an 18-year-old female were transported to a nearby Border Patrol station for processing.
The ordeal is the latest evidence that smugglers care more about getting paid than their human cargo, officials said.
“These three were very fortunate to not have fallen from the top of the wall, which could have resulted in serious injury or death,” Aaron Heitke, the acting chief for USBP’s San Diego Sector. “These dangers are not important considerations to smugglers, who place an emphasis on profits over safety.”
The rescue comes just a few months after the Department of Homeland Security concluded a $100 million project to replace dilapidated Vietnam-era solid steel helicopter landing mats with the 30-foot slatted steel border wall, which is topped with a flat, solid steel panel.
Border Patrol agent Vincent Pirro told reporters as the project concluded in August the new 14-mile stretch of wall from the ocean to Otay Mesa is the wall that President Trump built, rather than a leftover project from Obama administration.
“This was during his administration. It was funded and approved and it was built under his administration,” Pirro told KPBS. “This is Trump’s wall.”
In the months the wall went up, the number of people caught trying to cross the border dropped dramatically.
In May 2019, San Diego Sector agents arrested 5,884, and by August that figure had fallen to 3,326, a 43 percent decline, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.