By Andrew Hay
(Reuters) – When Sherrie Nixon saw the six strands of razor wire strung along the U.S.-Mexico border fence in her Arizona city, she said she wanted to cry.
“They’re turning our town into a military base. It’s like the front lines of some kind of war zone,” Nixon, 68, told the Nogales City Council on Wednesday night. “Please take a stand and at least have them get rid of the razor wire. It’s a public nuisance, it’s lethal.”
Minutes later, the council unanimously passed a resolution condemning the use of the concertina wire as an indiscriminate use of lethal force normally reserved for battlefields and high-security prisons.
The council called on the federal government to remove the wire and not use military force or military-type tactics in their city. Nogales, a city of more than 20,000 residents, borders on the Mexican city of the same name.
“We’re not going to allow this in Nogales,” Mayor Arturo Garino, a Democrat, said at the meeting, which was recorded and streamed on the internet. “We have children who live right next to it, 10 feet away from it.”
Garino said his city was very safe, and he did not want the eyesore and safety hazard of the wire to ruin the community’s healthy economy. He planned to file a lawsuit over it.
The razor wire was installed by some of the more than 6,500 active-duty and National Guard troops deployed to the southern border.
President Donald Trump has said troops are needed because the border is in a “lawless state” and faces the “tremendous onslaught” of Central American migrant caravans.
‘CONCERTINA POSTER CITY’
“Is Nogales being used as their concertina poster city?” the mayor asked at the meeting.
The U.S. military has put up over 70 miles (113 km) of the wire along the 2,000-mile (3,219-km) border and will add an extra 160 miles (258 km), a Defense Department spokesman said.
The U.S. Border Patrol asked for up to eight strands of wire in its Tucson sector for “high risk urban areas commonly exploited by criminal smuggling organizations,” Customs and Border Patrol said in a statement.
Adding extra strands of wire has stopped people climbing over the wall, the agency said.
“Currently, there are no plans to remove the concertina wire,” the statement said.
Nogales residents like Victor Fontes are unlikely to give up their struggle to have it removed. His two aunts, in their 90s, live near the wall and told him to tell the council what they thought of the wire.
“In Spanish, they use the word “asquerosidad (filth),” said Fontes, 75.
“It’s just beyond disgusting,” he said.
(Reporting by Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Peter Cooney)