Gaps in Arizona border wall filled with double-stacked shipping containers
YUMA, Ariz. - Governor Doug Ducey says gaps in the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Yuma have been closed with shipping containers.
Ducey issued an executive order on Aug. 12, ordering that the border wall be fortified with 60 double-stacked shipping containers, reinforced with razor wire. The 8,800-pound containers would also be welded together.
"Arizona has had enough," Ducey said in a statement. "We can’t wait any longer. 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. Time and time again we’ve stepped in to clean up their mess. Arizonans can’t wait any longer for the federal government to deliver on their delayed promises."
In a tweet on Aug. 24, Ducey said the 11-day project closed 3,820 open feet of the wall with 130 shipping containers.
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security gave border officials the go-ahead to fill four remaining gaps in the wall near Yuma to protect the safety of migrants and U.S. agents working there.
Last year, Ducey deployed the Arizona National Guard to the border due to the high number of migrants crossing into the state from Mexico.
President Joe Biden halted wall construction his first day in office, leaving billions of dollars of work unfinished but still under contract. Trump worked feverishly in his final months to reach more than 450 miles (720 kilometers), nearly one-fourth of the entire border. The Biden administration has made rare exceptions for small projects at areas deemed unsafe for people to cross, including four gaps in Yuma. It expects to award a contract for Yuma this fall and take up to 28 months to complete work.
Some question measure's effectiveness
Ducey’s critics have seized on images from Univision network showing two containers that toppled during 11 days of construction for unknown reasons.
Gary Restaino, the top federal prosecutor in Arizona, used a bilateral meeting in Mexico City to needle the governor Friday, tweeting, "We’re not dumping a bunch of shipping containers in the desert and calling it a wall to get cheap press." Ducey retorted that "we’ve taken matters into our own hands" because the federal government hasn’t done enough.
Migrants continue to avoid barriers by going around them — in this case, through a 5-mile (8-kilometer) gap in the Cocopah Indian Reservation near Yuma, a desert city of about 100,000 people between San Diego and Phoenix that has become a major spot for illegal crossings.
The day Ducey declared his project complete, the Border Patrol encountered a fairly typical count of about 850 migrants entering the country illegally in its Yuma sector. Most were dropped off by bus or hired vehicle on the Mexican side and walked through the reservation in darkness under a crescent moon.
Migrants used vehicle barriers, dirt roads and flashlights on their phones to guide them to Border Patrol agents outside tribal lands to be taken into custody.
Humans, drugs crossing the border creating problems for local law enforcement
Besides illegal immigration, drugs are also a problem along the border, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Port of Nogales seizing fentanyl at alarming rates.
Recently, more than 1.5 million fentanyl pills were found hidden inside the floorboards of a tractor-trailer, and now, cartels are producing 'rainbow fentanyl,' pills that are disguised to look like candy.
"You have families that are going to college and other various ages. You just never know what they may experience or encounter out there, so these pills are extremely dangerous," said Edith Serrano with the CBP. "It's very important for these families to speak to their family members regarding the dangers of these pills."
Border crossings are also affecting sheriffs officials, even in counties that are not directly along the U.S>-Mexico Border.
"It really puts a lot of burden on us, and the only way we can do this is working together," said Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb. "The sheriffs along the border, myself, we talk a lot along with the other local agencies in our county and throughout the state. If we don’t stop them, then it's going to filter into the rest of the country."
In Cochise County, Sheriff Mark Dannels says their main issue is human smuggling. The majority of their arrests are actually from Americans who are helping the cartels, and are often recruited on social media. In fact, from January to July, Sheriff Dannels says around 617 people were booked into his jail on border-related crimes. Of those people, 577 are U.S. Citizens…
In a recent case, a Phoenix mother was arrested on Aug. 23, after transporting eight undocumented immigrants in her minivan, while her ten-year-old son was also in the car.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey says 130 shipping containers were used to close nearly 4,000 feet of previously open border in Yuma. (Doug Ducey)