(NewsNation) — Arizona has begun building a barrier of shipping containers to fill a gap in the border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in Yuma.
Providing the containers work in the small gap, many are wondering if this could be a solution for the rest of the southern border. It would take thousands of shipping containers to make up the entire border wall, but could it be done?
The southern border is 1,954 miles long; only about 700 of which currently have any kind of physical barrier. With each shipping container standing about 60 feet long, that puts the number at nearly one-third of a million individual containers.
Prices for used shipping containers typically run around $2,000 apiece. Needing 330,000 of them would cost $660 million — a savings of 98%. Whether or not Arizona’s plan works is yet to be seen, but if it does, it appears the state may have stumbled on a way for a major government project to be done cheaply.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order to close a 1,000-foot gap in the border wall near the southern Arizona farming community of Yuma on Friday, with officials saying they were acting to stop migrants after repeated, unfulfilled promises from the Biden administration to block off the area.
“Arizona will not sit idly by as the Biden administration fails to do its job and safeguard our state and nation from the clear and present danger of an unsecure border,” Ducey’s letter said.
The move by Arizona comes without explicit permission on federal land, with state contractors starting to move in 60-foot-long shipping containers and stacking two of the 9-foot-tall containers on top of each other early Friday. They plan to complete the job within days, and the containers will be topped with 4 feet of razor wire, said Katie Ratlief, Ducey’s deputy chief of staff.
The state plans to fill three gaps in the border wall constructed during former President Donald Trump’s tenure in the coming weeks totaling 3,000 feet.
The move is the latest pushback by a Republican-led border state to what they contend is inaction by Democratic President Joe Biden on immigration. It was immediately prompted by the announcement of the end of the “Remain in Mexico” program that was announced this week, Ducey’s top lawyer, Annie Foster said. That program required asylum-seekers to return to Mexico and await a court date, although thousands of migrants who made it into the country were not returned.
Ducey is using $6 million for the project out of $335 million the Legislature authorized in June to construct virtual or physical fencing along the border with Mexico.
The Biden Administration announced late last month that it had authorized completion of the Trump-funded U.S.-Mexico border wall near Yuma. The area has become one of the busiest corridors for illegal crossings, and they planned to fill in four wide gaps. Arizona officials said they did not know why there was a discrepancy between the three gaps they identified and the federal government’s plans.
Biden had pledged during his campaign to cease all future wall construction, but the administration later agreed to some barriers, citing safety. The Department of Homeland Security planned work to close four wide gaps in the wall near Yuma to better protect migrants who can slip down a slope or drown walking through a low section of the Colorado River.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas authorized completion of the project near the Morelos Dam in July, a move officials said reflected the administration’s “priority to deploy modern, effective border measures and also improving safety and security along the Southwest Border.”
Arizona points to a rising number of migrants coming into the state and accompanying drug smuggling as a major reason for their action. Agents stopped migrants more than 160,000 times from January through June in the Yuma sector, nearly quadruple from the same period last year. The only other Border Patrol sectors with more traffic were Del Rio and Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.
Arizona has been sending two to three buses of asylum seekers from Yuma to Washington, D.C., over the last three months to make a political statement as the number of arriving migrants overwhelmed local resources. Ducey began the program in May and has said everyone on the bus trips are going voluntarily to the capital with intended final destinations in East Coast cities.
Texas also is busing migrants to the East, and the mayors of New York and Washington sought federal help last month to deal with the influx, a request that brought a gleeful response from Republicans who say the pleas are evidence the U.S. is in an immigration crisis.
As of Aug. 11, the state of Arizona had sent 1,425 asylum seekers to Washington, according to the governor’s office.
Despite the federal promise to fill in the gaps, Arizona officials said no action had been taken to actually close the gaps. The federal government apparently put the project out to bid this week, but that may takes weeks or months.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.