Arizona’s shipping container wall on border is coming down

Arizona’s shipping container wall on border is coming down

PHOENIX – Former Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s shipping container border barrier has largely been dismantled in time for a new Democratic administration, costing tens of millions of dollars in just a few months after they were installed and removed. again.

The removal of the red, gold and blue steel cans is creating a profound visual change in affected parts of Arizona’s southern landscape as a new governor takes office and another $76 million in state funding is spent to remove the containers on The $95 million he has. the cost of putting them there.

Ducey had said the containers placed at an opening along the border near the western community of Yuma and across a grassland valley in eastern Arizona’s Cochise County were intended as a temporary measure until the Biden administration undertook permanent construction to secure the border.

Gov. Katie Hobbs, who was sworn in this week, was among Democrats who called it a political stunt.

Border security was a key issue of Donald Trump’s presidency and remains a focus for many Republicans. Hobbs’ GOP rival, Kari Lake, campaigned on a promise to send the National Guard to the border on her first day in office.

The case ended up in federal court after Ducey sued, asking that Arizona be recognized as having sole or joint jurisdiction over the strip of federal land where the containers were placed. He also argued that Arizona had the right to protect its residents from illegal immigration, which he called a humanitarian crisis.

An agreement between the Ducey administration and the federal agencies named in his lawsuit called for the containers to land by Wednesday, the day before Hobbs’ inauguration. But the court later postponed all case deadlines by 30 days to give Hobbs and new Attorney General Kris Mayes time to review the situation.

In Yuma, all 130 containers covering about 3,800 feet (about 1,160 meters) were removed on Tuesday.

Workers continue to dismantle the container wall in Cochise County, said Russ McSpadden, who has regularly visited the site in the remote San Rafael Valley as a southwest conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity.

About a third of the roughly 3,000 containers were erected there, raising concerns about potential harm to local wildlife and natural water systems before protesters halted work in early December. Environmentalists said the work in the Coronado National Forest endangered endangered or threatened species such as the western yellow-billed cuckoo and the Mexican spotted owl.

Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls said in an interview this week that the U.S. government plans permanent construction starting this month to close the largest gap in the wall in his area, around the section of Morelos Dam that migrants often pass through. But Nicholls said he worries about several other loopholes that are not scheduled to be closed.

“The containers wouldn’t completely stop people from coming through, but it was a way to better control it,” said Nicholls, a Republican who is in regular contact with the White House and US agencies about the hundreds of asylum seekers who they arrived at his house. city ​​every day.

Nicholls said he is already in talks with the Hobbs administration about border security and wants the governor to visit the area.

“I hope it will get here sooner rather than later,” he said. “We still feel like it’s an emergency.”

Under Ducey, Arizona was busing hundreds of immigrants from the Yuma area to the US capital.

Nicholls said regular bus trips to Washington continue despite the change of governors, with the nonprofit Regional Center for Border Health taking over the contract.

He said that without any kind of immigrant housing, Yuma is ill-equipped to help newcomers who need a place to stay, and offering bus rides to Washington allows many people to travel for free to the East Coast, where they can have families.

Unlike the busloads of immigrants sent to East Coast cities from Texas, nonprofit groups in Washington have said the buses from Arizona come with detailed manifests of passengers and their nationalities, coordination of arrival times and medical staff on board. every trip. The Ducey administration had sent more than 2,500 immigrants on about 70 trips to Washington beginning in May.

The Ducey administration previously estimated that each bus ride costs about $80,000 in state funds, which would bring the total cost so far to more than $5.6 million.

A spokesman for the Regional Center for Border Health in Somerton, Arizona, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how the contract is being handled now.

Nicholls said the center will be reimbursed for the cost of travel by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *