Arizona will remove double-stacked shipping containers erected to close gaps in the wall on the United States-Mexico border.
Governor Doug Ducey’s shipping container barrier became a source of increasing tension between the state and the federal government. The Biden administration sued Arizona on Dec. 14, accusing the state of trespassing on federal land to place the barrier in the border wall openings.
“By January 4, 2023, to the extent feasible and so as not to cause damage to United States’ lands, properties, and natural resources, Arizona will remove all previously installed shipping containers and associated equipment, materials, vehicles,” the Dec. 21 agreement states.
The federal government asked the state to stop any further shipping container barrier construction and remove shipping containers currently in place.
Ducey issued an Executive Order in August directing the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to close gaps in the border wall with shipping containers. The governor said he had a duty to protect the citizens of his state and he would not continue to wait for the federal government to take action.
“Our border communities are being used as the entryway to the United States, overwhelming law enforcement, hospitals, nonprofits and residents,” Ducey said. “It’s our responsibility to protect our citizens and law enforcement from this unprecedented crisis.”
In the weeks that followed, approximately 120 shipping containers were placed in unfinished areas of the border wall in Yuma County, which declared an emergency due to the health and humanitarian crisis caused by illegal immigration across the southern border. Yuma County Chairman Tony Reye’s office reported that more than 300,000 people trying to illegally enter the US had been apprehended in the Yuma Sector during the 2022 fiscal year.
“With the County facing a ‘triple threat’ of COVID-19, Respiratory Syncytial Virus and the flu, and the increasing number of asylum seekers and migrants entering Yuma County from Mexico, local healthcare resources are being stressed,” said Reye’s office in a Dec. 14 statement.
Environmental organization Center for Biological Diversity called the shipping container wall “nothing more than a contemptuous, failing publicity stunt.” The organization objected to the barricades, arguing the containers impeded the migration routes of jaguars and ocelots.
Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior have said the shipping containers are on federal lands and that the project is therefore “unlawful,” per NBC News.
Ducey’s spokesman, CJ Karamargin, said in a statement that shipping containers were a “stopgap measure” and that the state would remove them when the federal government “took steps to erect a permanent barrier.”
“Finally, after the situation on our border has turned into a full-blown crisis, they’ve decided to act,” Karamargin said, per Axios. “Better late than never. We’re working with the federal government to ensure they can begin construction of this barrier with the urgency this problem demands.”