Arizona governor builds border wall of shipping crates in final days of office | Arizona


A makeshift new barrier built from shipping containers is being illegally erected along part of the US-Mexico border by the Republican governor of Arizona – before he must hand over the keys to his office to his Democratic successor in January.

Doug Ducey is leading a project placing double-stack old shipping containers through miles of national forest, in an effort to fill gaps in Donald Trump’s intermittent border fences.

The rusting hulks, covered in barbed wire and with pieces of metal wedged into holes, stretch for more than three miles through the Coronado National Forest Area, south of Tucson, and the governor has announced plans to expand that to 16 kilometres, for a fee of $95 million (£78 million).

Ducey’s shipping container wall on the AZ-MX border is worse than I imagined. I went down yesterday to see for myself for a Border Chronicle story. Imagine 10 miles of this through a national game forest. This is happening now

— Melissa del Bosque (@MelissaLaLinea) November 30, 2022

The area, with mountain ranges rising abruptly from the desert and a diverse environment of plants and animals, is federal land managed by the US Forest Service.

Ducey had first experimented with some shipping containers in August in Yuma, in the southwestern corner of the state bordering California and Mexico, with the aim of stopping migrants and asylum seekers.

Ever since Donald Trump implemented the Title 42 rule in 2020, when he was president, which closed the gates of entry to most asylum seekers in the US, people elsewhere have sought holes in barriers to seek asylum from border agents. The rule still appears to be on track to end later this month, though a lengthy legal battle is underway.

Ducey issued an executive order in August to erect old shipping containers near Yuma, and 11 days later workers had 130 of what he described as “22ft-tall, double-stack, state-owned, 8,800lb, 9x40ft containers, on coupled and welded together.” closed”.

In October, Ducey filed a lawsuit claiming that the federal land along the border, known as the Roosevelt Reservation, actually belongs to the state, not the U.S. government, and that Arizona has a constitutional right to protect itself from whatever he called an invasion. , citing “numerous migrants” resulting in “a mix of drugs, crime and humanitarian problems”.

US lawyers gave a scathing reply, refuting the claims.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Cocopah Tribal Nation said Ducey violated federal law by placing the containers there on federal and tribal lands. In a letter, the agency demanded that the state remove the containers. But the state hasn’t, and has since been encouraged to embark on the larger project now underway more than 300 miles east.

Ship crates fill gaps in the border wall near Yuma, Arizona. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels supports the new series of shipping containers being placed in his county, hoping that “it will deter crime and stop criminal behavior.”

But as the line of metal boxes snakes west into the neighboring county of Santa Cruz, the sheriff there, David Hathaway, told the Nogales International newspaper that if anyone tries to place the containers in his jurisdiction, they will be arrested for illegal dumping.

Dinah Bear, a lawyer and former general counsel to the Environmental Quality Board within the White House Executive Office, said Ducey’s lawsuit was “shockingly bad” and “frivolous.”

“There’s no question that this is federal property,” she added, and it’s also public land, meaning “there’s no legal difference between the land they put the shipping containers on and Grand Canyon National Park.”

To block the project, she said U.S. Forest Service agents would “definitely want a court order from a judge… They’re not going to the border to have a gunfight with state police or arrest the governor at [state] Capitol.”

Federal Judge David Campbell, based in Phoenix, is presiding over the case, but no hearing has yet been held.

“The clock is ticking,” Bear said, as courts eased and the holiday season approached.

Arizona’s new governor, Democrat Katie Hobbs, who will take office on Jan. 2 after defeating Republican nominee Kari Lake in the midterm elections, has said she will remove the containers.

Bear predicts that Campbell will order the removal.

But before that happens, they are laid down by a contractor named AshBritt, a Florida-based disaster response company. A local media investigation revealed that Ducey’s announced cost of $6 million for the Yuma barriers had actually cost $13 million.

Daily protests from local residents alarmed by the project have slowed, but failed to stop, the lightning-fast installation.

Meanwhile, Mark Ruggiero, the former Sierra Vista district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service in Cochise County, said the shipping containers pose a threat that jeopardizes a bi-national firefighting agreement with Mexico.

“I was shocked to see this barrier go in,” he said. “It’s an illegal action on public land.”

As a barrier to humans, the double-stack boxes aren’t much of an obstacle, but they pose an existential threat to endangered migratory species, especially jaguars and ocelots, and are also an eyesore.

Emily Burns, program director for Sky Island Alliance, a binational nonprofit conservation organization that tracks wildlife in the Coronado National Forest, said, “No environmental assessment or planning or mitigation had been done.”

The Center for Biological Diversity was allowed to join the federal government as a defendant in Ducey’s lawsuit and has denounced the barrier as harmful and a political stunt.

Meanwhile, Burns noted that her organization has 70 wildlife cameras on this part of the border and they rarely see migrants crossing there.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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