After a slow start, the federal government has ramped up construction of the fence along the Mexican border in recent weeks. The steel barrier now reaches far into rural areas for the first time, in response to a shift in smugglers' strategy, the Los Angeles Times reports. Workers have finished 145 miles of fencing, including a 32-mile stretch—the barrier's longest continuous section—from San Diego to the Tinajas Atlas mountains.
In one formerly busy crossing point in Arizona, officials say a 15-foot-high steel-mesh barrier and a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire have slowed the number of illegal immigrants caught from 800 a day to as low as 15. The border patrol expects to complete another 225 miles of fencing next year. "For the first time," said Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar, "we're getting ahead of where the criminal organizations are going to go."