Arizona’s Republican governor agreed to begin removing the temporary border barriers just two weeks before his term expires.
Arizona has agreed to remove shipping containers that it placed along the U.S.-Mexico border as a temporary barrier.
According to CNN, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, issued an executive order in August instructing the state Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to erect a barrier along the border.
“Arizona has had enough,” Gov. Ducey said in August, referring to the so-called crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border. “We can’t wait any longer.”
Before their removal, the 8,800-pound shipping containers stood 22 feet tall.
Welded together and topped with a further four feet of razor wire, the containers were intended to fill in “gaps” along the border.
However, the U.S. Department of Justice recently filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging that Arizona had pre-empted the federal government’s jurisdiction over immigration affairs and border policy.
In its lawsuit, the Justice Department said that, not only had Arizona failed to request authorization to construct additional border barriers, but that the shipping containers were damaging the environment and actively impeding the work of federal Forest Service officials.
Shortly after submitting its complaint to the court, Arizona agreed to gradually dismantle its border fixtures.
“By January 4, 2023, to the extent feasible and so as not to cause damage to United States’ lands, properties, and natural resources, Arizona will remove all previously installed shipping containers and associated equipment, materials, vehicles, and other objects from the United States’ properties in the U.S. Border Patrol Yuma Sector, including from lands over which the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation holds an easement on the Cocopah Indian Tribe’s West Reservation,” the agreement states.
Gov. Ducey’s office has since touted the agreement as a victory for Arizonans, noting that the federal government had also pledged to reinforce existing border fortifications.
“For more than a year, the federal government has been touting their effort to resume construction of a permanent border barrier,” a spokesperson for Ducey said on Thursday.
“Finally, after the situation on our border has turned into a full blown crisis, they’ve decided to act. Better late than never,” they said. “We’re working with the federal government to ensure they can begin construction of this barrier with the urgency this problem demands.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that Arizona’s stopgap border wall was about one-third complete by the time the agreement was reached.
The temporary construction, adds the Times, cost an estimated $95 million.
Gov. Ducey is expected to be succeeded by Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, in another two weeks.