AZ Big Media Ducey, Feds Battle Over Border Shipping Containers

Rafael Martinez Orozco, assistant professor of Southwest Borderlands at Arizona State University, said politics and security involving the US-Mexico border are too complex to respond to simplistic solutions.

“I think it’s part of a band-aid solution that only thinks about the border wall as a regiment – as such – that’s going to solve our problems,” Orozco said.

Containers are also controversial for environmental reasons. Sierra Club border areas manager Erick Meza said the bulky containers could pose barriers for migrating animals in the Yuma region.

“I think no wall is the solution,” Meza said. “Remove some of the segments of the walls on these priority areas using technology if you wish. But really, I think the keys to the solutions are to address the root causes of migration.

On October 14, the Bureau of Reclamation sent an email to the Arizona Department of Homeland Security and the Arizona Division of Emergency Management stating that the container placement encroached on federal lands and asking the state to stop placing containers on federal and tribal Cocopah lands. ground.

In the same email, the office said Customs and Border Protection had already awarded a contract to fill the gaps along where Arizona placed the containers. He also said the state was actively interfering with the process the bureau had put in place to fill in the gaps — and that was a violation of federal law.

Ducey responded with a lawsuit Oct. 21, claiming he had the authority to make the decision to place the containers at the border through his “emergency powers” as governor. In August, Ducey declared a state of emergency in the face of the increased flow of migrants crossing the border illegally and, as a result, he authorized the placement of the containers.

According to CBP data, the Yuma sector of the U.S.-Mexico border saw more than 300,000 with Border Patrol agents in fiscal year 2022. This is an increase of more than 170 percent in encounters in fiscal year 2021, which leads the country by a wide margin. It is also the third busiest corridor for illegal border crossings in the country, according to CBP.

Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls said in September that despite state palliatives, they “still won’t have a dramatic impact” until federal aid arrives and fills the gaps with beams. in steel.

The feeling that Yuma is powerless over his immigration issue is shared by city and county officials. Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines knows the federal government is the only entity capable of creating a permanent border barrier.

“We really need them to step in and resolve this situation,” Lines said. “It is their responsibility to take care of the borders. It’s not a state responsibility, and it’s certainly not a county or city responsibility. »

Lines, Nicholls and Ducey said the state stepped in because of the increased demand and lack of resources that Yuma and other border towns faced due to the influx of migrants. Plugging the holes in the border fence with the containers gives them more “operational control”, they said.

“Until you have control, you can’t really solve the overall problem of legal immigration. You have to control the boundary of the situation first,” Lines said.

Orozco said that due to this year’s midterms, the phrase ‘operational control’ is being used to allay voter concerns about the border becoming a ‘figurative character’ for voters at election time. and the complexities of border politics are ignored.

“I think the idea of ​​having control of the border is very mythical,” he said. “Operational control, I think, is just playing up a lot of the details or massaging a lot of the anxieties during this election cycle.”

Lines said Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, was the only voice in the federal government to acknowledge the help needed to secure the border, but no official timeline has been set for when the help will arrive. Kelly’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

In August, Kelly, along with fellow Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema and two other senators, introduced a bipartisan bill to increase the salaries and ranks of Border Patrol agents. Kelly also sponsored a bill to use new technologies to deter drugs, including fentanyl, from crossing the border.

Although Lines and Ducey pointed to drugs as the reason for closing gaps in the fence, Nicholls said overall security and control of the situation were top priorities. The only option is to rely on the federal government, he said, and the permanent solution can only come from them.

“The ball is in their court,” Nicholls said. “We are always ready to be at the table.”

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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