The $95 million shipping container “border wall” — ordered by outgoing Governor Doug Ducey (R) in the final months of his leadership — has been almost completely removed as his successor, Democrat Katie Hobbs, assumes her role as the state’s fifth female governor.
The cost of removal will cost Arizonans an additional $76 million.
According to Ducey, the make-shift wall was a temporary solution until the Biden Administration took measures to secure the border permanently.
Critics of the construction on federal lands shared concerns about obstruction to the natural water systems and wildlife in Cochise County – where nearly 1000 of the 3000 containers were placed.
Russ McSpadden, a conservation advocate for the Center of Biological Diversity, has been a regular visitor to the construction site, The Associated Press reported.
“Environmentalists said the work in the Coronado National Forest imperiled endangered or threatened species like the western yellow-billed cuckoo and the Mexican spotted owl,” wrote Anita Snow for The Associated Press.
Gov. Ducey asked a court to give shared jurisdiction between Arizona and the federal government.
The moderate Republican argued that it was the state’s right to “protect its residents from illegal immigration,” after being told by federal agencies that building on U.S. land is against the law.
The $30,000 shipping containers (each) were ordered removed the day before Hobb’s swearing-in – but the court stayed the order for a month to give the new Governor and recently elected Attorney General Kris Mayes time to discuss the matter.
“The containers were never going to totally stop people from crossing, but it was a way to better control it,” Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls said.
Hundreds of asylum seekers arrive in the Arizona town on a daily basis – putting a strain on local resources.
Nicholls has been in communication with the Biden Administration and hopes the new governor makes a trip soon to the valley.
He said that without any kind of migrant shelter, Yuma is ill-prepared to help newcomers who need a place to stay.
“I’m hoping she makes her way here sooner rather than later. We still feel like it’s an emergency,” he said.
Arizona has spent roughly $5.6 million busing migrants to Washington, D.C. – at a cost of approximately $80,000 per trip.
Over 2500 migrants have been transported to the nation’s capital since May 2022, but unlike the GOP-governor-run relocations occurring in Texas and Florida, Arizona has taken a humanitarian approach.
The cruel practices of Governors Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis – whose practice of dropping migrants off in the middle of a winter night and freezing temperatures without coordination with local officials at their destination – have drawn condemnation and criticism from human rights and immigrant advocacy groups.
The program under former Governor Doug Ducey included manifests of the travelers, details of their places of origin, medical personnel to accompany them on the trip, and communication with groups ready to receive the migrants at the time of arrival.
Customs & Border Patrol has announced that construction will begin next week to close a gap frequently used by migrants crossing the Colorado River near the Morelos Dam.
In December, Gov. Hobbs wasn’t certain what she planned to do with the containers, but floated the idea of them being repurposed for affordable housing, which is much needed in the state.
Original reporting by Anita Snow at The Associated Press.
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