Shipping container wall lawsuit dropped, locals justify blocking flood of immigrants

This photo provided by the Arizona Governor's Office shows shipping containers that will be used to fill a 1,000 foot gap in the border wall with Mexico near Yuma, Ariz., on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (Arizona Governor's Office via AP) HOGP

As the shipping containers along the southern border in Yuma, Arizona, came down months ago, the two federal cases against the state have been dismissed.

The Ducey administration placed the containers at the gaps last year and agreed with the federal government to take them down under the condition that a replacement barrier was created, The Center Square reported in December. However, the federal government took months to make progress on its own barrier, KYMA reported. 

“We worked to ensure that U.S. property rights and agency missions were respected especially since the placement of the shipping containers by the State of Arizona abutted on our international border with Mexico,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said in a news release. “We appreciate the collective support of U.S. Attorney Restaino and his office, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture in seeing this situation through, including remediating the land where the containers were placed.”

Since then, incumbent Gov. Katie Hobbs has been trying to sell the containers that were used as a temporary solution to government and nonprofit groups until Sept. 30 through the Arizona Department of Administration. According to the department’s website, any containers that are leftover will be available for the public to buy starting in October. 

“Comprehensive border solutions require collaboration and common sense,” U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino for the District of Arizona said in a news release. “When Arizona unilaterally placed hundreds of shipping containers on tribal and federal land back in 2022, it made the border less safe. The containers have now been removed and the land restored. Thanks to the Department of the Interior (through the Bureau of Reclamation) for supporting the rights of the Cocopah Tribe, and to the Department of Agriculture (through the Forest Service) for its vigilance against environmental degradation.”

Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines told The Center Square the containers served an important role at the time to mitigate the flow of migrants coming into the United States.

“First and foremost, the only reason I would put it up is because the federal government failed to act. And so we kept looking for solutions. We kept calling D.C. I kept having conversations with Kelly Sinema and Mark Kelly urging them to work with the president to finalize the wall,” Lines said. “[Alejandro] Mayorkas came to Yuma, Mayor Nicholls, and I met with him. He committed to filling in the gaps to nine of the 11 gaps, is what he told us in the meeting. And in that meeting was Chief Ortiz and Yuma Sector Border Patrol, Chris Clem. And in that meeting, he told us that they would fill nine 11 gaps. And then they continued to, delay, delay, delay. And meanwhile, we still had thousands of people coming across the border in those areas every day. And so looking for different solutions, that is one that we came up with.”

He added that it acted as another tool Border Patrol was able to use, regardless of what the Biden administration thought about it.

“And it was easy to look at other examples of where that had been done and then go ahead and proceed to do it. They procured them. Border Patrol repeatedly told us, “Thank you.” That was not providing, you know, total operational control, but it provided situational control, and it acted as a funnel to one area to where it was more manageable, to where it did not require as many officers to police or to watch over. So it fully functioned,” he added. “Everybody was happy. State, local, and federal officers. Of course, D.C. wasn’t happy in the area of Yuma where they placed those.”

Republished with the permission of The Center Square.