Arizona forges ahead with container wall despite objections


() — An eyesore, an environmental disaster, a million-dollar junkyard — that’s what some are calling Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s shipping container barrier in a national forest along the southern border.

It’s the controversial way the governor is fighting illegal immigration. More than 834 containers stretch more than 3 miles through the Coronado National Forest, and despite pushback from the federal government and environmental groups, Ducey says he has no plans of slowing down.  

Opponents to the project say the barrier isn’t just keeping out undocumented immigrants. Sky Island Alliance published a video of animals looking for ways around the containers.

“It’s a tragic waste of public funds, it’s a tragic loss of lands and it’s a destruction of habitat for no good reason,” said Eamon Harrity, the alliance’s wildlife program manager. “It’s an ineffective wall against humans, but it is quite effective in crushing oak trees and blocking the movements of animals, so it’s a tragedy.”

Recently, a group of about 20 protesters showed their disdain for the governor’s project by holding signs reading, “Stop trashing our public land” and “Governor Ducey’s 100 million dollar junkyard.”

Hours later, the National Forest Service issued a warning saying people should avoid the area as construction equipment and unauthorized armed security personnel are on-site. Crews now have road closed signs posted near the work zone.

The Forest Service and other federal government agencies have informed the state that the containers are unlawful. The federal government has pushed for the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Ducey that asks a judge to designate the land for state use.

As the project moves ahead, Ducey’s office says it has no intention to halt it. Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels hopes it sends a message to the Biden administration.

“We feel like we are being forgotten down here; enough is enough,” Dannels said. “Work with us, we are willing to work with you as national sheriffs, state sheriffs, western sheriffs; let’s work together for the good of the people.”

The $95 million project will span 10 miles and utilize roughly 3,000 shipping containers when it is completed. Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs says the containers are a political stunt, though she has not said if she’ll have them removed when she takes office.

It all comes as the Biden administration is considering contingency plans when the Title 42 immigration restrictions end Dec. 21. The White House has plans to build more of the wall that was started under the Trump administration, but a timeline or location for when the project may resume hasn’t been released.

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