Aug 13, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Arizona filling gaps in U.S.-Mexico border wall without federal permission

Photo of vans parked beside a gap in the border wall
A Border Patrol agent drives a van between a gap along the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico in Yuma, Arizona on June 1, 2022. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Arizona has begun stacking shipping containers to close a 1,000-foot gap in the U.S.-Mexico border wall near Yuma after Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued an executive order Friday directing the state to immediately fill remaining gaps.

Why it matters: Ducey says the Biden administration has repeatedly ignored the crisis caused by the surge in border crossings and that Arizona can no longer wait for federal action. The move, which comes as the Biden administration rolls back the Remain in Mexico policy, was not authorized by the federal government even though the wall stands on federal land, AP reports.

Details: The state is double-stacking 60 shipping containers, welding them shut and adding four feet of razor wire to reinforce the physical barrier, according to a press release from Ducey's office.

  • It is expected to stand at 22 feet and weigh around 8,800 pounds.
  • The border wall was built under the Trump administration, but the federal government largely halted construction after President Biden took the office — though the administration has moved in recent months to fill in wall gaps in Texas citing safety and flood control.
  • In the coming weeks, Arizona plans to fill three gaps in the wall, a total of 3,000 feet, per AP.

What they're saying: "Arizona has had enough. We can’t wait any longer," Ducey said in a statement that pointed to the presence of cartels and drug smuggling. "The Biden administration’s lack of urgency on border security is a dereliction of duty."

  • "Our border communities are being used as the entryway to the United States, overwhelming law enforcement, hospitals, nonprofits and residents. It’s our responsibility to protect our citizens and law enforcement from this unprecedented crisis."
  • "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 a statement.
  • "Washington must send a clear message that this is not the way to immigrate to our country."
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The big picture: The Biden administration actually authorized the completion of the U.S.-Mexico wall in the southern Arizona region in July, AP notes. State officials say federal officials haven't moved fast enough, however.

  • In recent months, Arizona has joined Texas in sending migrants to D.C. by bus as a political statement.
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