California Installs Border Wall “Spikes” to Safeguard Migrants from Climbing Injuries 

When it comes to border hopping, nothing is too daunting for illegal immigrants. Raging rivers, barbed wire, floating barriers, it appears nothing can stand in their way.  

Not even a border wall. 

It seems that illegal immigrants are embracing their inner American Ninja Warrior and attempting to climb the border wall, with predictable results. John Fanestil, executive director of Via International, said that “people are falling all the time” trying to scale the barriers and “breaking their backs and legs.” He adds, “They’re fracturing their spines, and many are dying from border wall falls.” 

In the past year, a single hospital in El Paso reported that nine migrants lost their lives after falling from the barrier. At the same time, another 326 individuals were treated for severe injuries resulting from falls of up to three stories. The chief trauma surgeons at county hospitals in El Paso and San Diego report receiving at least one patient per day with border wall fall-related trauma in 2023. 

But California has the answer, as California always does. San Diego has installed new metal anti-climb spikes along the border wall to deter migrants from illegally entering the country. These new apostrophe-shaped deterrents will top the 30-foot-high border wall at Friendship Park between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. Positioned to face the Mexican side of the border, the curved metal spikes serve as an additional obstacle for migrants attempting to scale the wall. 

Nothing is safer than stopping a person who successfully made a thirty-foot climb by obstructing their ability to finish the effort at the very top. What could go wrong? 

Opposition to the wall spikes has been fierce. Journalist Leah Borromeo emphasized the impact of “defensive architecture,” stating, Putting spikes up like this doesn’t address the issues of inequality and poverty – it just pushes them away from your immediate vision so that you don’t have to look at them.” Dr. Susan McAndrews, chief trauma surgeon at University Medical Center in El Paso expressed dismay over the consequences faced by migrants, noting that it was heartbreaking to see people who are “just trying to make a better life for themselves” end up critically injured because of the spikes. 

Ricardo de Anda, founder of the De Anda Law Firm representing those injured on the wall, condemned the wall spikes as “a cruel and unnecessary addition to an already cruel and unnecessary wall” that only serves to “inflict pain and suffering on desperate people who are fleeing violence and persecution.” And Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee’s U.S./Mexico Border Program, characterized the wall spikes as “a symbol of the militarization and dehumanization of the border.” 

Although called “spikes,” the deterrents are not sharp or pointed. They are metal bars curving outward over the Mexican side of the border, designed to make it harder for people to grip or climb over the wall. Border Report indicates that the “Little Roofs” are a prototype and will be implemented at other border wall sections if they effectively deter migrants. 

The border wall extends along the Tijuana River banks, where it enters the US via a shallow, concrete canal that migrants have been using in large groups to cross the border. An additional half a mile of fencing is being installed along the riverbanks on the Mexican side. In 2017, the Trump administration authorized an increase in the border wall height to thirty feet, and since then, doctors throughout San Diego have reported a surge in spinal injuries among those who try to climb it. 

San Diego Neurosurgeon Alexander Tenorio highlights a rise in neurological injuries, including traumatic brain and cerebrovascular injuries, among illegal migrants. He blames the injuries on the increased height of the border wall, which he believes will result in long-term consequences, like preventing individuals from working and supporting their families. 

The migrant climbing deterrent spikes were installed within the past two weeks with little fanfare. Pedro Rios, a migrant advocate, criticized the placement of the deterrent at Friendship Park, which historically symbolizes unity between Mexico and the U.S., saying, “It represents denial, represents exclusion and is pushing people away.”  

Friendship Park was a well-known area where separated families could communicate through the metal segments of the wall. That will end with constructing a new 30-foot wall, which is 90% finished and features anti-climb deterrents at the top. The fence, which allowed families to communicate, is now a solid wall. 

California, where common sense goes to die, has upped the ante and, most likely, the number of injured-yet-determined immigrants. They should install airbags at the bottom so their victims can at least enjoy the landing and consider a moat filled with alligators if the wall spikes fail.