Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is using shipping containers to build a border wall along sections of the state’s border with Mexico. But construction of the wall has largely been halted this week due to environmental protests.
“Protesters … have actually come in and camped out overnight in front of equipment and have actually put the equipment and the project on pause,” Ali Bradley, News Nation’s border correspondent, told The Daily Signal.
Ducey’s administration has completed over 3 miles of the project. It aims to build a 10-mile wall with double-stacked shipping containers topped with razor wire in Cochise County. The project, expected to cost around $95 million, will use 3,000 shipping containers.
Environmentalist groups say the containers could damage natural waterways and harm endangered species.
Bradley has visited the construction site in the Coronado National Forest, about 60 miles southeast of Tuscon, Arizona, and says the wall “just goes and goes.”
The border correspondent says she is not aware of any complaints from locals about the wall, adding, “you have to go very far out of your way to see it.” Bradley said she spent four hours looking for the shipping container wall before she finally found it.
The only concern locals have expressed to Bradley concerns hunting. The wall may be interrupting the migratory pathways of some animals, making it harder to hunt game, hunters told her.
Ducey has made the makeshift southern border wall one of his final missions before he hands the reins over to Democrat Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs on Jan. 5.
More than 370 miles of Arizona land borders Mexico. Former President Donald Trump built sections of border wall in Arizona, but gaps remain. Over the summer, Ducey launched a wall-building project in Yuma County in the far western part of the state. Using 130 shipping containers, Ducey filled 3,820 feet of previously open border. The project is reported to have cost about $6 million.
“Five wide open gaps in the border wall near Yuma neighborhoods and businesses are now closed off,” Ducey said in an Aug. 24 statement. “In just 11 days, Arizona did the job the federal government has failed to do—and we showed them just how quickly and efficiently the border can be made more secure—if you want to.”
However, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation sent a letter to Arizona state officials saying the Yuma border wall was illegally constructed on federal land and must be taken down. But instead of removing the shipping containers, Ducey filed a lawsuit against the federal government.
In October, Ducey asked the Arizona District Court to determine who has “jurisdiction over land within the State of Arizona,” and to consider the “state’s interests in protecting itself.”
The governor says he was no longer willing to wait for the Biden administration to fill the gaps in the border wall.
“Arizona is going to do the job that Joe Biden refuses to do—secure the border in any way we can,” Ducey said in an Oct. 21 statement announcing the lawsuit against the federal government.
“Governor Ducey’s unorthodox container wall is simply one more border-state governor’s desperate effort to step into the wide breach left by the Biden administration’s unprecedented refusal to defend the United States border and enforce immigration laws passed by Congress,” Simon Hankinson, senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Border Security and Immigration Center, told The Daily Signal. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“The Biden administration and Secretary Mayorkas’s DHS have made no effort to use existing tools to keep people from entering the U.S. while any asylum claims are made, instead funneling border agents and taxpayers’ money into getting them safely into the U.S. This dereliction of duty is a national disgrace,” Hankinson said.
Border Patrol reports over 2 million encounters with illegal aliens at the border in fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30. In October, Border Patrol encountered 230,678 illegal aliens at the southern border, an increase of more than 65,000 from last October.
The shipping container wall’s effectiveness in preventing illegal immigration remains to be seen. Because the containers are empty, Bradley says locals have expressed concerns that illegal aliens could cut through the containers or tunnel under them.
Border Patrol numbers of illegal alien apprehensions in the Yuma Sector do not show a significant difference after the Ducey administration filled in the wall’s gaps.
During the first full week of July, about a month before the completion of the wall, Border Patrol Yuma Sector reported 5,800 migrants arrested. During the last full week of November, Yuma’s Border Patrol reported 5,900 migrant arrests.
The wall is expected to help funnel illegal migrants to specific crossing locations, however, making apprehensions easier.
In August, John Modlin, chief of the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, told The Associated Press, “If Yuma has 10 gaps and people were crossing all 10 gaps, it’s much more difficult for us to deal with than if Yuma has one or two gaps and the majority of traffic is crossing through those gaps.”
Hobbs has not said whether she will remove the shipping containers when she takes over Arizona’s governorship in less than a month. During an interview with Arizona PBS, Hobbs said the shipping containers are “not effective as a barrier,” adding that she thinks Ducey’s actions are a “political stunt that’s not really solving a problem.” Her office did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.
It will likely “cost about $70 million” in “Arizona taxpayer dollars” to remove the shipping containers, according to Bradley.
“In the 15 months that I’ve been covering the border,” Bradley said, “I’ve spoken with many sheriffs, asked them what they think about the wall … and every single law enforcement individual that I’ve talked with along the border has said that they believe that there is a place for some kind of structure.”
“They don’t expect it to stop everybody from coming over,” she said, “but they do expect it to be a deterrent.”
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