‘The containers will remain in place’ state of Arizona responds to federal government
Bureau of Reclamation previously stated the containers were a trespass on federal land
YUMA, Ariz. (KECY, KYMA) - In a letter written by Arizona Director of Emergency Management Allen Clark, the state says the shipping containers placed in Yuma's wall gaps in August will remain in place.
U.S. Department of the Interior sent a letter to Arizona on October 13 alleging the containers are a "trespass against the United States”, “harming federal lands” and “impeding reclamation’s ability to perform its mission.”
The letter from Clark pushes back on these allegations.
"Your letter incorrectly claims Arizona has trespassed against the United States," Clark said. "States like Arizona cannot rely on the federal government to ensure its security."
While migrant apprehensions have not decreased since the shipping containers were placed in Yuma's wall gaps, County Supervisor Jonathan Lines says it has lowered the number of "gotaways," migrants seen with cameras but never apprehended by agents.
“The number of known gotaways is down. It used to be 3,000 a month, now it’s at 1,000, so that’s a significant reduction,” Lines said.
C.J. Karamargin, a spokesperson for Governor Ducey re-iterated that the state would not be removing the containers from Yuma's wall gaps.
"Governor Ducey takes his responsibility to protect Arizona seriously," Karamargin said. "The idea that anyone would suggest we take actions that have the opposite effect is disrespectful."
The governor's office maintains they are happy to remove the temporary containers when the federal government offers a permanent solution.
Another letter sent to the governor's office on October 18, announcing a project to close 4 gaps in the Yuma Sector, suggests that will not be coming anytime soon.
"The gaps will be filled using a combination of temporary mesh fencing and mechanized vehicle bollard gates," Shelly Barnes, the CBP Environmental Planning Lead wrote. "Construction will begin in early 2023."
Barnes' letter adds that "the project area is located on federal land that was previously disturbed by other construction activities."
Karamargin said the containers already serve as a temporary solution and they won't be removed for a mesh barrier.
"What we need is a permanent solution, not another temporary one," Karamargin said.
Just a few hundred yards away from the shipping containers is piles of unused traditional steel border fence.
Which has remained on the ground since President Biden's first day in office, when he issued an executive order pausing all wall construction.
The Bureau of Reclamation has not yet responded to requests for comment from KYMA on how the containers harm federal land or are impeding their mission.