U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also shared one of the viral posts on X.
The posts imply that the Biden administration is allowing people to illegally enter the U.S. as a result of the open gates, with one person writing, “Biden Border Crisis.”
Did the Biden administration weld open border gates in Arizona?
While it’s true that some gates at the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona were opened, the online claims are missing context.
Customs and Border Protection seasonally opens storm gates to protect border fencing from being damaged by flooding during monsoon season. This practice predates the Biden administration.
WHAT WE FOUND
While it’s true that some gates at the border in Arizona were opened, the online claims are missing key context about when and why the practice began.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) opens the storm gates during monsoon season to protect border fencing from the impacts of flooding. This practice predates President Joe Biden’s administration.
VERIFY traced the viral video to an original video showing gates welded open in the border wall near Lukeville, Arizona. It was recorded and posted by NewsNation reporter Ali Bradley.
Bradley wrote in her post on X that crews “open the gates at the start of monsoon season each year and they stay open until it ends.”
CBP explained to VERIFY that heavy rainfall during monsoon season, which officially begins on June 15 and runs through the end of September in Arizona, can cause flooding and a buildup of debris that threatens the structural integrity of the border barriers.
A 2021 report from VERIFY partner station KPNX shows damage to parts of the border wall near Douglas, Arizona, caused by monsoon storms. The flooding from monsoon rains led to nine border wall gates being ripped from their hinges and left others buried in mud.
The border wall is designed with stormwater drainage gates that are meant to be opened during monsoon season, as shown in the viral video online.
“Fencing in the Tucson Sector was constructed at various times between 2009-2021, and throughout the history of the infrastructure, during monsoon season and ahead of potential heavy rains or flood events, CBP has opened stormwater drainage gates to ensure proper drainage and minimizing potential impacts to the infrastructure,” a spokesperson for CPB told VERIFY in an email.
The practice of opening the border gates to prevent flood damage is not a new one under the Biden administration.
Some of the online claims about the open border gates imply that the practice allows migrants more easily enter the U.S.
A report published by the Associated Press in September 2023 says some migrants have walked through open storm gates in the border wall to U.S. soil.
But the CBP spokesperson told VERIFY that the agency continues to enforce federal immigration laws when the gates are open, which include removing people who don’t have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.