Arizona has rebuffed federal demands to remove double-stacked shipping containers it erected to cover gaps in the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The state says it will wait for the federal government to build a permanent barrier before removing the containers.
In a letter sent on October 18 to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs said, “the containers will stay in place until detailed specifics about construction are supplied.” Department head Allen Clark put his name on it.
In the latest spat between the Biden administration and Republican-led border states over immigration laws, Arizona’s rejection was cited as a factor; however, a regional spokeswoman for the Bureau of Reclamation did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The federal government notified Arizona state authorities in a letter last week that the containers were illegal and in violation of federal law. The agency has also requested that no additional containers be put in the Yuma, Arizona region, near the Morelos Dam, citing potential problems with the two federal contracts previously given and the two pending contracts to repair the border wall there.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said he couldn’t wait for the United States Customs and Border Protection to award contracts it had advertised for the construction, so he ordered the installation of more than 100 double-stacked containers that had been put during the summer.
The newly built barricades have not stopped migrants from finding other routes, such as across the Cocopah Indian Reservation. The Cocopah Indian Tribe has filed a complaint against the state of Arizona, claiming that the state went against the tribe’s desires by constructing 42 of the double stacks on tribal territory.
Republican lawmakers who want to demonstrate their support for border security often bring up Trump’s proposed border wall.
Construction on the wall was suspended on Vice President Joe Biden’s first day in office, leaving billions of dollars in uncompleted work but no termination of the contract. The gaps near Yuma are among the sites where the Biden administration has made a few exceptions for smaller improvements due to safety concerns.
On Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue Ducey’s administration over what the environmental organization claims are plans to install additional shipping containers near the border, bringing up a fresh issue to the containers. The organization claims the plan would block a vital migratory route for jaguars and ocelots.
Without formal notification from the hub, Ducey’s office said that it was unable to comment.