Arizona refuses to take down its makeshift border wall, comprised of more than 100 double-stacked containers. The border state placed them to fill in gaps along the southern U.S.-Mexico border and says they will not be dismantled until the federal government completes the barrier.
In a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation, dated October 18, the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs didn’t budge, saying, “the containers will remain in place until specific details regarding construction are provided.” The letter, signed by Allen Clark, the department’s director, was not received well.
In a letter last week, the Bureau of Reclamation told officials in Arizona that the containers violated U.S. law. The federal agency demanded that no more containers be put at the site, explaining it doesn’t want interference in two pending federal contracts and two federal contracts to fill the gaps in the border fence near the Morelos Dam in Yuma, Arizona.
Doug Ducey, Arizona’s governor, made the original order for the double-stacking border containers. Ducey said he couldn’t wait for the Customs and Border Protection to complete its contracts.
Migrants continue to avoid border barriers, including a portion of the Cocopah Indian Reservation. The tribe has complained that the state is acting against the Cocopah’s wishes by placing the barrier on its land.
A notice of intent to sue Gov. Ducey has also been filed by The Center for Biological Diversity, saying the stacked containers would obstruct a critical ocelot and jaguar migration corridor.
Former President Donald Trump pressed for more robust border security during his administration. Conversely, President Joe Biden halted border wall construction on his first day as president. Billions of unfinished work on the barrier are still under contract. The Biden administration made a few exceptions, including closing small portions of the wall, like in Yuma, where it has been deemed unsafe for people to cross.
Governor Ducey tired of waiting for action from administration
Ducey said he’s tired of waiting for the Biden administration to complete the wall and is pressing ahead with the border wall.
“The Border Barrier Mission is working,” said Ducey in a tweet. “Arizona is protecting its citizens. Why the federal government won’t is beyond belief.” On August 12, the governor signed an executive order directing state agencies to use double-stacked shipping containers installed to fill incomplete border barrier segments. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas already signed off on the closing up of four gaps in an attempt to keep migrants from drowning while attempting to cross the Colorado River.
Almost two weeks after he signed the executive order, Ducey announced Arizona had used 130 shipping containers to complete a 3,820-foot section of the border barrier. He also issued a press release where he cited U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, showing that the number of migrant encounters had soared by 230 percent in the past year.
C.J. Karamargin, a spokesperson for Governor Ducey, said the letter underscores the lack of seriousness the federal government has about completing the wall. He said CBP doesn’t plan to fill the border wall gaps until 2023 and will use mesh temporarily.