Arizona Governor Ends 'Border Crisis' By Throwing Old Shipping Containers At It
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has about three weeks left in his term before Governor-elect Katie Hobbs is sworn in on January 5, but he's moving full speed ahead with a stupid plan he's been pursuing since August: He wants to fill in all the gaps in the Arizona sections of Donald Trump's big beautiful impervious border WALL with old shipping containers stacked two high, so nobody can possibly cross the border illegally unless they have a ladder, some rope, or the sharp minds to walk around it. (Which has been what migrants have been doing when they reach the first section of shipping-container WALL erected three months ago near Yuma, in the west of the state.) Ducey claims he just has to do this because he's a Republican governor and Joe Biden is bad.
Various federal agencies have ordered Ducey to knock it off because the container WALL is on federal and private land. The newest section of ugly wall is supposed to cover about 10 miles in Cochise and Santa Cruz counties, using some 3,000 containers. The cost will be about $95 million, although Hobbs has pledged to stop the construction once she's in office, and will make a decision about what to do with the containers after that. She said last week that she's "looking at all the options.” The Associated Press notes that Hobbs has
previously suggested the containers be repurposed as affordable housing, an increasingly popular option for homeless and low-income people.
Environmental groups warn that the containers could block natural water flows and interfere with endangered species. For the last few weeks, protesters have managed to slow and even stop the construction, because they're badass that way. Russ McSpadden, of the Center for Biological Diversity, told the AP that "A lot of damage could be done here between now and early January."
Yesterday it snowed, which does happen even in the Sonoran Desert, I've seen it, and McSpadden posted some pictures that would be a lot prettier if it weren't for what looks like a train wreck with no wheels, stretching along the border.
\u201cAt Camp Ocelot the last three days where protesters have stopped all construction of Gov Ducey\u2019s shipping container wall across the Coronado National Forest day and night, rain, snow or sunshine. Protesters have held this illegal wall at bay for three weeks now.\u201d— Russ McSpadden (@Russ McSpadden) 1670969773
To top the stupidity off, the AP points out that the area where Ducey's Trainwreck is currently going up now, in the San Rafael Valley,
is not typically used by migrants and was not contemplated in Trump’s wall construction plan. McSpadden said he has not seen migrants or Border Patrol agents there, just hikers and backpacking cyclists.
The construction there stretches from oak forests in the Huachuca foothills southeast of Tucson and across the valley’s grasslands. As of the middle of last week, cranes had transported more than 900 blue or rust-colored metal containers down a dirt road freshly scraped into the landscape, then double stacked them up to 17 feet (5.2 meters) high alongside waist-high vehicle barriers of crisscrossed steel. Workers bolted the containers together and welded sheet metal over gaps.
The new construction in the Coronado National Forest is disrupting at least 12 "ephemeral streams" along the border, and should have required permits for each blockage under the Clean Water Act, McSpaddden says. But environmental laws are only for liberals and communists, apparently. The AP notes that the US Forest Service is among several agencies, along with the US Bureau of Reclamation, that has told Arizona to stop the construction. Ducey's response was to file a federal lawsuit in October, which doesn't address the environmental concerns but insists the state has no choice but to toss up the improvised border barrier to "protect" its citizens from all the scary migrants. After all, we are a nation of laws, unless they're environmental laws or federal agency regulations.
In late November, the Forest Service issued an alert to visitors warning them of safety concerns resulting from the state's "unauthorized activities" in the area, noting the presence of "construction equipment and unauthorized armed security personnel on-site." Which is nice, but how about actually showing up with a warrant to actually stop the construction? Maybe the Department of Agriculture figures waiting three more weeks would be preferable to a confrontation that might attract a bunch of armed crazies determined to "protect" the border from all those immigrants who aren't there.
In addition to the federal complaints and the persistent presence of the protesters, Santa Cruz County Sheriff David Hathaway says he's willing to arrest anyone building walls illegally. He called the shipping containers "illegal dumping" on federal land:
The area where they’re placing the containers is entirely on federal land, on national forest land. It’s not state land, it’s not private land, and the federal government has said this is illegal activity. So just the way if I saw somebody doing an assault or a homicide or a vehicle theft on public land within my county, I would charge that person with a crime.
Considering the protesters' success so far in blocking the construction, Ducey's half-assed WALL may not even get that far. We can hope, at least.
Hobbs told Phoenix's public radio station KJZZ this week that she agrees with the federal government that the border barrier isn't legal, and that it's just a dumb publicity stunt at that:
It's not land that's our land to put things on. That's one problem. The containers aren't working. There's many pictures of people climbing over them. [...]
It's a political stunt. It's a visual barrier that is not actually providing an effective barrier to entry, and I think a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Actually removing the containers that have been put in place might require action by the state Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans. We bet maybe a federal court order might inspire them to take action. And then there's all the environmental damage, not just from Ducey's vanity trainwreck, but also from Trump's WALL before it. Grrr, they make me mean mad, Ma.
But let's close with a cat video: The protesters are calling their encampment "Camp Ocelot" because they're protecting the home of this gorgeous endangered lovey, caught on trail cam in the mountains above the site.
\u201cWhy \u201cCamp Ocelot\u201d? Because this endangered kitty lives just up the mountain from camp. \u201d— Russ McSpadden (@Russ McSpadden) 1670969773
Let's hope they can keep resisting Ducey's garbage WALL before he does an ocelot of damage.
[AP / Wapo / Border Chronicle / KJZZ / Photo: Center for Biological Diversity on Twitter]
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