Arizona Director of Homeland Security and local leaders shed light on Ducey's border wall
Yuma, Ariz. (KAWC) - A new barrier comprised completely of shipping containers outside Gadsden is already finished.
Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order early Friday morning, and work began immediately.
The swift action caught some off guard, but insiders say, this was not an overnight operation.
Arizona Department of Homeland Security Director Tim Roemer told KAWC people should have seen this coming.
“I mean, nobody should be surprised by this action, Governor Ducey has been committed to border security since he first took office," said Roemer.
Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines confirms, it’s been in the works for a while.
“This isn't something that started yesterday or last week.” Lines told us.
“We have been working on getting the permissions from landowners over the last couple of months and ensuring that all the paperwork was correct and anticipating that the federal government would step up and take care of its commitment to provide national security.”
And now a 1,000-foot gap outside Gadsden is filled.
Director Roemer explained how it worked:
“These are large containers; we’re going to double-back them and put barbed wire on top. The total height will be 22 feet, and each container weighs 8,800 pounds. We’ll start with a thousand-foot stretch and move into different phases in the area,” he said.
Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls, who is also an engineer, says it’s a pretty simple process.
“So, there’s two on top of each other, you can kind of think of them like Legos, you just stack one on top of the other,” he said.
And it works...
“It is effective and it’s quick. Not too expensive as compared to building a wall. It’s also not permanent, but within hours you can have a large section covered up, so from that perspective it’s very effective,” said the mayor. “And it’s great to have an immediate solution.”
With the first gap closed, the state will turn its attention to other holes.
The one near the Morelos Dam will be sealed in the next phase.
It’s certainly a fast solution, and it’s arguably innovative, but is it legal for the state to erect a barrier on federal land?
Here’s how director Roemer answered that question:
“We have consulted with our legal team, and we feel confident in the decisions we’ve made that we’re moving forward with today,” said the director.
“Even the federal government has said these gaps must be filled, they’re just not doing it,” he continued. “Their failure to act is what’s driving our sense of urgency right now. So, it would be very hypocritical for them to take action against us when they’re saying it needs to be done.”
Governor Ducey’s executive order came just two days after U-S Senator Mark Kelly visited the Yuma border to announce the opening of bids for federal barrier construction in September.
Roemer says the state simply couldn’t wait on bureaucratic red tape.
“It’s gotten completely out of control. It’s gotten to the point where we need to do something significant. It must be immediate. It has to be now; we’re not waiting months and months for RFPs to go out from the federal government with no guarantee this will ever get done. Now is the time for action, we can’t wait any longer,” he told us.
And Supervisor Lines says, Arizona merely took care of what the federal government did not.
“The time has come for the state to step up and do what the federal government has been promising to do for months now,” said Lines.
Roemer tells us, it’s good to move forward.
“We’re excited about this,” he shared. “
As depressing as the overall border crisis is, and as stressful as it is, this is an action we feel confident in, and we’re at a position right now where we truly feel this will make a significant impact for the better.”
So far, we’ve had no response from the federal government to Governor Ducey’s order.