Border Wall Tug-of-War Between Arizona Governor and Feds Intensifies

Border Wall Tug-of-War Between Arizona Governor and Feds Intensifies

Doug Ducey, Arizona’s Republican governor, is dismissing the Biden administration’s request that the state take down a wall of shipping containers set up to block migrants from entering the country illegally.

Ducey on Thursday reacted defiantly to a letter from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation asking state officials to remove the double-stacked containers used to fill a gap on a planned partial border wall with Mexico. The Biden administration had planned to complete the barrier, but Ducey said he’s pressing ahead with the border wall, which has been a political lightning rod.

“The Border Barrier Mission is working,” Ducey said in a tweet Thursday, referring to the wall construction initiative. “Arizona is protecting its citizens. Why the federal government won’t is beyond belief.”

Ducey signed an executive order August 12 directing state agencies to use double-stacked shipping containers to fill incomplete segments of a border barrier near Yuma in southwest Arizona. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas previously signed off on closing four gaps to prevent migrants from drowning as they attempted to cross the Colorado River.

But Ducey said the state couldn’t wait for the Biden administration to take action. Nearly two weeks after signing the executive order, Ducey announced the state had used 130 shipping containers to complete 3,820 feet of the border barrier. A news release from Ducey citied U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) figures showing the number of migrants encountered by agents had soared by 230 percent within a year.

 Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey at Rally
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey speaks at a rally for then-President Donald Trump at the International Air Response facility on October 19, 2018, in Mesa, Arizona. Ducey has defended his administration’s use of shipping containers to fill in segments of a border wall.
Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Jacklynn Gould, regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation, said in a letter sent last week to Arizona state officials that the shipping container wall is illegal and amounted to trespassing on federal property. The letter also referenced plans for CBP to complete segments of the wall.

Ducey spokesperson C.J. Karamargin told Newsweek in an interview that the letter underscores that the federal government is not serious about completing the wall, pointing out that it was sent two months after the executive order was signed. He also said the CBP isn’t planning to begin filing in the border wall gaps until next year and will use mesh as a temporary measure.

Karamargin provided Newsweek with a copy of the response that Allen Clark, Arizona’s emergency management chief, sent to Gould on Tuesday disputing that the shipping container wall was illegal and blasting the federal government for inaction on the border.

“Further, the lack of coordination among the federal agencies with jurisdiction on the southwest border demonstrates that states like Arizona, cannot rely on the federal government to ensure its security,” he wrote.

Newsweek has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Reclamation for comment.

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