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Twenty brave souls camping out at the wet, frigid eastern Arizona border with Mexico have done what all the king’s horses and all the king’s men – meaning, all of the government’s lawyers – could not do. Yet.
They’ve stopped construction on Humpty Ducey’s baleful shipping container wall.
Until recently, Gov. Doug Ducey’s farewell scheme to waste more than $100 million of Arizona’s tax dollars on a grotesque, ineffective, environmentally disastrous shipping container “wall” along parts of the border was proceeding just as he’d planned.
Not long ago, however, a hearty group of protesters took up residence in front of the wall construction in a remote area of the Coronado National Forrest, and have hung in, day and night, through cold, snowy conditions.
Protesters are 'protectors of the borderlands'
The federal government has been clamoring about Ducey’s ridiculously expensive publicity stunt for months. First when $6 million was spent placing containers near Yuma. And now in Cochise County, where the governor wants to spend $95 million and set up 3,000 containers.
The federal government announced plans this week to sue the governor over the scheme. And while that is a good thing the construction could have continued if not for the protesters.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement from Washington that the container wall “is not an effective barrier, it poses safety hazards to both the public and those working in the area and has significantly damaged public land.”
One of the organizers of the protest, Kate Scott, told NBC News, “We’re protectors of the borderlands. Until we can see some action, we’re staying put."
The area we’re talking about is not a huge draw for illegal border crossers of the human variety, but it is vital to the comings and goings of several endangered species, including ocelots.
Shipping containers are a 'political stunt'
A resident of the area, Andy Kayner, who resides 10 miles from the border, said of the stacked containers, “It’s a political stunt, and it’s so costly in terms of view, wildlife migrations and brutal desecration of land. This landscape is some of the prettiest country in all of Arizona, and the so-called migrant traffic is basically nonexistent. It’s just a battle cry for elections.”
Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, commenting on the government’s plan to sue, said, “We need immediate action to finally address the illegal and useless container wall on federal and Tribal lands. Governor Ducey has wasted $95 million in taxpayer dollars, blocked critical wildlife corridors, and manufactured a dangerous situation with unauthorized armed security personnel along our southern border. Governor Ducey is determined to leave office with a mess and unfortunately, it’s now up to someone else to clean it up.”
As you know, “someone else” usually means us.
Ducey leaves office. We're on the hook
Robin Silver, a co-founder of The Center for Biological Diversity, which has worked long and hard to protect Arizona’s natural habitat, said, “It’s a travesty to see desert washes filled with dirt and these beautiful borderlands turned into a dump site.
“We’re grateful to the courageous activists who’re braving rain and snow to block construction. Thanks to these protesters, an injunction in this case is less urgent, but we need a judge to stop this for good.”
The center is planning a new lawsuit against the state. Meantime, the Biden administration is asking a judge to allow the feds to dismantle Ducey’s debacle and to bill Arizona for the cost. What that means, essentially, is that the containers eventually will be replaced with an actual barrier and the state of Arizona will be stuck for the bill to remove Ducey’s delusional stunt.
Millions more wasted, while Ducey, by that time, is long gone.
Reach Montini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Humpty Ducey's disastrous container border wall comes to a halt