Why Arizona’s Container Wall Isn’t the Perfect Solution

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Governor Ducey of Arizona was quite proud of his container wall. It was a fast, affordable solution to dealing with immigration. Since the federal government doesn’t want to help with building the wall, he did so using over 100 shipping containers stacked on top of and next to one another, covering several hundred feet of space along the Yuma sector of the border.

Unfortunately, illegal immigration continues to be a problem. But why?

As the Associated Press reported, “Migrants continue to avoid barriers by going around them – in this case, through a 5-mile gap in the Cocopah Indian reservation near Yuma, a desert city of about 100,000 people between San Diego and Phoenix that has become a major spot for illegal crossings.”

Although Ducey sees his makeshift border of stacking containers a major step toward securing the border, there are hundreds who can simply walk around it.

There are holes all over the border because of private land issues. The government doesn’t own the entire border. Much of it is privately owned – or it belongs to various Indian tribes.

If a tribe does not approve the wall, it doesn’t get built. If a landowner opposes the wall, it doesn’t get built. And the migrants are well aware of where the holes are so that they can continue to walk right into the United States.

Biden halted the construction of the border except in rare situations where a wall will be built if an area is deemed unsafe to cross – and that includes four gaps in Yuma. Of course, a contract hasn’t been awarded yet and the time it will take to complete the project will be 28 months. And suddenly, that wall that Ducey made that took only three days is looking better.

It’s not that Ducey’s wall doesn’t work. It does what it needs to do – fills in a gap along the border. It’s just that there are so many gaps that illegal migrants will simply walk a bit further down so that they can still cross. They don’t see the wall made up of containers as a deterrent because they know they’ll find a gap somewhere along the line.

Ducey is also quick to note that “Arizona did the job the federal government has failed to do – and we showed them just how quickly and efficiently the border can be made more secure – if you want to.”

Border Patrol encountered a similar count as they always do within the Yuma sector – even after Ducey’s wall was constructed. Often, migrants are arriving at the gaps by bus or hired vehicle. Then, they walk across the Indian reservation under the moonlight.

Border Patrol agents do what they can to take people into custody. They wait on the other side of the reservation.

The chief of the Border Patrol in Tucson, Arizona, John Modlin, explains the real problem. “If Yuma has 10 gaps and people were crossing all 10 gaps, it’s much more difficult for us to deal with than if Yuma has one or two gaps and the majority of traffic is crossing through those gaps.”

The Cocopah Indian Tribe remains committed to securing the border, but they don’t believe that a wall is the answer. They have been in strong opposition of a wall because it would not only cut access to the river, but it would also prevent tribal members from Mexico to enter the land.

Ducey’s container works, but it’s not the full solution and that’s because of the ownership of land that spans the full border. For a real solution, the federal government has to get involved. Unfortunately, based on how involved they’ve been over the past 18 months, it doesn’t seem likely.