(NewsNation) — Arizona has begun building a barrier made of shipping containers to fill a gap in its border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in Yuma.
With containers operating in a small gap, many wonder if this could be a solution for the rest southern border. It would take thousands of shipping containers to build the entire border wall, but can it be done?
The southern boundary is 1,954 miles long; only about 700 of which currently have any appearance a physical barrier. With each shipping container about 60 feet long, that’s nearly one-third of a million individual containers.
Prices for used shipping containers typically hover around $2,000 apiece. The need for 330,000 of these would cost $660 million – a savings of 98%. It remains to be seen whether Arizona’s plan will work, but if it does, the state appears to have stumbled upon a way to get a major state project done on the cheap.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday ordered the closure of a 1,000-foot gap in the border wall near the southern Arizona farming community of Yuma, with officials saying they were acting to stop migrants after repeated failed promises by the Biden administration to close the area.
“Arizona will not sit idly by unless the Biden administration does its job and protects our state and nation from the clear and present danger of a dangerous border,” Ducey said in the letter.
Arizona’s move comes without an apparent permit on federal land as state contractors begin moving 60-foot-long shipping containers and stacking two of the 9-foot-tall containers on top of each other early Friday. They plan to finish the job within days, and the containers will be covered with 4 feet of barbed wire, said Kathy Ratliff, Ducey’s deputy chief of staff.
The state plans to fill three gaps in the border wall built during former President Donald Trump’s tenure that total 3,000 feet in the coming weeks.
The move is the latest pushback from the Republican-led border state against what they say is Democratic President Joe Biden’s inaction on immigration. This was immediately prompted by the announcement of graduation “Stay in Mexico” program, which was announced this week, said Ducey’s general counsel Annie Foster. That program required asylum seekers to return to Mexico and wait for a court date, although thousands of migrants who entered the country were not returned.
Ducey is using $6 million of the $335 million the Legislature authorized in June to build a virtual or physical fence along the Mexican border for the project.
The Biden administration announced late last month that it had authorized the completion of a Trump-funded wall on the US-Mexico border near Yuma. The area has become one of the busiest corridors for illegal crossings, and four wide gaps are planned to be filled here. Arizona officials said they don’t know why there is a discrepancy between the three gaps they identified and the federal government’s plans.
Biden promised during his campaign to halt all future wall construction, but the administration later agreed to some barriers, citing security concerns. The Department of Homeland Security has scheduled work to close four wide gaps in the wall near Yuma to better protect migrants who could slip off the slope or drown while walking across the low-lying section of the Colorado River.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas authorized the completion of the project near the Morelos Dam in July, a move officials said reflects the administration’s “priority to deploy modern, effective border measures and enhance security along the southwest border.”
In Arizona, the main reason for its actions is the increase in the number of migrants who come to the state and accompany drug smuggling. Agents stopped migrants more than 160,000 times between January and June in the Yuma sector, nearly four times more than during the same period last year. The only other Border Patrol sectors with more traffic were Del Rio and the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.
Over the past three months, Arizona has sent two or three busloads of asylum seekers from Yuma to Washington, D.C., to make a political statement as the influx of migrants has overwhelmed local resources. Ducey started the program in May and said all participants in the bus trips voluntarily travel to the capital with intended final destinations in cities on the East Coast.
Texas also transports migrants to the east Last month, the mayors of New York and Washington asked for federal aid to handle the influx, a request that drew cheers from Republicans who say the requests are proof the US is in an immigration crisis.
As of Aug. 11, Arizona has sent 1,425 asylum seekers to Washington, according to the governor’s office.
Despite a federal promise to fill the gaps, Arizona officials said no action has been taken to close the gaps. The federal government apparently put the project out to bid this week, but it could take weeks or months.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.