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In an interview with Jim VandeHei for "Axios on HBO," acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan shrugged off concerns of smugglers cutting through and climbing over President Trump's border wall.

  • In a separate interview with Margaret Talev, director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli told "Axios on HBO" that while some may be able to break through, there at least isn't "entire swaths of the border now where they can come and go as they please."

The big picture: Trump had sought to make the wall impermeable to outsiders, but recent reports have shown smugglers cutting through the wall with saws and power tools. Morgan argued that "the wall was never designed to be that no one could ever, ever get through it," but instead to "give the Border Patrol agents an extra boost of operational capacity to get time to get to there."

  • The border wall is still under construction — largely held up by funding and bureaucratic hurdles.

What they're saying:

"The important thing we've been trying to get out to the American people: It's not just a wall. It's a wall system we need. And the wall system needs to be part of a multilayered strategy of infrastructure, personnel and technology. If you have all three of those and the right locations, the right amounts, then we will be successful."
— Mark Morgan to "Axios on HBO"
"The wall is working. I don't think anybody ever thought it would be indestructible. And none of us expect the cartels in particular to sit there and do nothing while we block their chosen paths of their corridors to move their products, whether they be people, drugs, weapons, what have you."
— Ken Cuccinelli to "Axios on HBO"

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

4 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.