Arizona officials have decided that they are done waiting on the federal government to fill the gaps left in the unfinished border wall. On Friday, Arizona started placing shipping containers to block off the three remaining gaps along the border in Yuma.
“The federal government has committed to doing this, but we cannot wait for their action,” said Katie Ratlief, Governor Doug Ducey’s deputy chief of staff.
To block off the remaining border sections, Arizona is using shipping containers stacked on top of one another. The containers are 60 feet wide and 9 feet high. At the top of the containers, officials plan to place razor wire, Ratlief reported.
On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security declared that former President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy would be coming to an end. The policy required illegal immigrants to remain in Mexico while waiting for their hearing dates in the United States.
In 2018, when the policy was announced, former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen said the program would help regain control of the illegal immigration crisis. “Aliens trying to game the system to get into our country illegally will no longer be able to disappear into the United States, where many skip their court dates. Instead, they will wait for an immigration court decision while they are in Mexico. ‘Catch and release’ will be replaced with ‘catch and return.’”
The Biden administration’s DHS stated that the policy would be terminated this week because it “has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs, and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border.”
Annie Foster, Ducey’s top lawyer, stated that the program was not correctly implemented, and thousands of migrants never returned to Mexico. She stated, “[B]ottom line is that the federal government has a duty to protect the states — that’s part of the contract, that’s part of the constitution. They failed to do that.”
The end to the policy prompted Arizona officials to act. Ducey plans to use the remaining $6 million left over from the canceled program to add virtual and physical fencing to the border gaps.
The state does not currently have permission from the federal government to block off the wall. However, officials believe the remaining 3,000 feet can be filled within days.
Foster said, “At this point, we are closing that gap and we’ll figure out the consequences as we move forward.”
In late July, the Biden administration authorized the completion of the border wall near Yuma. The administration cited that filling the gaps would protect immigrants from injuring themselves by slipping down a slope or drowning in the river.
Arizona officials reported that they had not seen any attempts made by the federal government to move forward on the promised plans to close the gaps.