Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will not immediately comply with the Biden administration’s order that the state remove shipping containers it placed this summer to fill in gaps in the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
The Associated Press reported Monday that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said in a letter last week that Arizona was violating federal law by placing more than 100 containers on federal land and on the land of Cocopah Indian Tribe’s West Reservation.
“The unauthorized placement of those containers constitutes a violation of federal law and is a trespass against the United States,” the letter said. “That trespass is harming federal lands and resources and impeding Reclamation’s ability to perform its mission.”
The containers were placed near Yuma, in southwest Arizona at the California state line.
The Bureau of Reclamation said it had awarded a contract in the area to close two gaps in the border wall on its land and anticipated awarding another soon to fill in two more gaps.
The letter said the containers must be removed so the projects can proceed.
HAPPENING NOW: Construction begins on a physical barrier at the Yuma portion of the border
🔸60 double-stacked shipping containers, welded shut
🔸Topped with 4 feet of razor wire
🔸Height: 22 feet
🔸Weight: 8,800 lbs pic.twitter.com/VQmYIynf8U
— Doug Ducey (@DougDucey) August 12, 2022
The Ducey administration is apparently taking a wait-and-see approach, according to a spokesman.
“As for the letter, we question their legal analysis and we are looking at our options,” Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin told the Washington Examiner.
The 120 containers have been in place since August, Karamargin said.
“It took the feds since August to write a letter? If this is any indication of their sense of urgency, then perhaps that explains the problem we’re having,” he said.
Ducey’s team lost patience with the Biden administration, noting it had vowed back in December to begin wall construction to fill in gaps.
— Marissa Sarbak (@MarissaSarbak) October 18, 2022
“Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) announced this summer that the Department of Homeland Security would begin the process of hiring a builder to fill in gaps in the wall in Yuma, but Ducey pushed forward, saying he had given the government enough time to act and they had not moved on the wall,” the Examiner reported.
“Arizona has had enough,” Ducey said in an August news release.
“We can’t wait any longer,” the governor said. “The Biden administration’s lack of urgency on border security is a dereliction of duty. For the last two years, Arizona has made every attempt to work with Washington to address the crisis on our border.”
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order ending construction on the wall the Trump administration was building on the nation’s southern border, leaving many gaps.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that 284,078 migrants were apprehended illegally crossing into the U.S. in the Yuma sector from Oct. 1 to Aug. 31, which is a 208 percent increase compared with the same period in fiscal 2021.
“The Yuma community does not have the infrastructure to handle thousands of people crossing the border in need of food, shelter and medical services,” Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls said in an August statement.
“Yuma has experienced the worst of the border crisis. We’re grateful to Governor Ducey for ingraining himself in this issue and finding solutions,” the Republican added.
The Cocopah tribe offered its support for the Biden administration’s effort to remove the containers.
“We believe the Bureau is taking the necessary and appropriate action to resolve this issue,” the Cocopah tribe said in a Monday statement, according to the AP.
“Beyond that, we will continue working side-by-side with local, state and federal law enforcement on securing the border.”
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