Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed an Executive Order Friday afternoon authorizing the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to begin emergency construction to fill in a 1,000-foot-long gap in the border wall in the Yuma sector. The spur-of-the-moment order was abruptly announced after construction had already begun, and the governor’s office said construction would be concluded over the weekend. The order comes just days after the Biden administration lifted the “Remain in Mexico” policy earlier this week.
“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.”
“Our border communities are being used as the entryway to the United States, overwhelming law enforcement, hospitals, nonprofits and residents,” Ducey added. “It’s our responsibility to protect our citizens and law enforcement from this unprecedented crisis. With the resources and manpower in the right places, our Border Patrol and law enforcement will be better equipped to do their jobs well and prevent cartels from exploiting our communities. That’s exactly what our barrier mission will do.”
To construct the barrier, the state purchased 60 8,800 pound, 9×40 foot shipping containers. The containers will be linked together, then welded shut and topped with concertina razor wire. The barrier will be about 22 feet high, shorter than the 30-foot panels of border wall installed by the Trump administration. The project is expected to cost about $6 million, which will be taken from the $335 million “Arizona Border Security Fund.”
The state first made the announcement in a press call Friday morning, just six minutes after construction had started, the Washington Examiner reported. The state had not yet informed the Department of Homeland Security or the White House of the decision at the time. The state itself had only made the decision this week, the Examiner noted.
“At this point, we are filling that gap and we’ll figure out the consequences,” Ducey’s general counsel, Anni Foster, told reporters, via the Examiner. “But bottom line is, is that the federal government has a duty to protect the states. They failed to do that. We have made every effort to work with them and try to resolve this problem, but the governor can no longer wait for the federal government to take action when we have a community like Yuma, who is being sheltered at 150% of capacity.”
C.J. Karamargin, Ducey’s communications director, said that the state had been waiting on action since the Biden administration announced in December that it was taking action to fill in the gaps in the wall. The Biden administration made a similar announcement in July. “December came and went. January, February, March. Here we are in mid-August,” Karamargin said. “We’ve been waiting a very long time for the federal government to act on measures they said they were going to do and we haven’t seen any tangible evidence that they’re following through. So we will be doing it ourselves.”
“Our hope is that they’ll be paying attention to the news today,” he added.
Arizona’s actions follow similar actions by the state of Texas to build its own border barrier. In October of last year, Governor Greg Abbott (R) announced that Texas was placing shipping containers at several points along the border to create a barrier.