Arizona sheriff tells Gov. Ducey he'll start making arrests for placing containers on border

(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has been sending large shipping containers to the border in an effort to construct a makeshift border wall. Sheriff David Hathaway says he will arrest anyone who tries to place them in Santa Cruz County. He calls it “illegal dumping.”

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So far the wall of containers has come about 6 miles from Santa Cruz County. Hathaway opposes the governor’s actions, saying that the containers are on federal land, not state land. He argues he’d arrest anyone involved in placing the containers there, the same as he’d arrest people committing homicides or vehicle theft.

“The area where they’re placing the containers is entirely on federal land, on national forest land,” the sheriff told the station. “It’s not state land, it’s not private land, and the federal government has said this [is] illegal activity. So just the way if I saw somebody doing an assault or a homicide or a vehicle theft on public land within my county, I would charge that person with a crime.”

Ducey filed a lawsuit against the federal government in October after he was told to stop double stacking the containers in the border wall gaps on federal and tribal land near Yuma. He had stacked more than 100 containers along the border by then. Ducey began ordering containers to the border last summer.

“Our border communities are overwhelmed by illegal activity as a result of the Biden administration’s failure to secure the southern border,” Ducey said in a statement at the time. “Arizona is taking action to protest on behalf of our citizens. With this lawsuit, we’re pushing back against efforts by federal bureaucrats to reverse the progress we’ve made. The safety and security of Arizona and its citizens must not be ignored. Arizona is going to do the job that Joe Biden refuses to do — secure the border in any way we can. We’re not backing down.”

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Protesters have slowed the governor’s work to fill in gaps in the border wall. Ducey vows to go forward, but his time left in office is limited. The federal government, environmentalists, and Katie Hobbs all call it a poor use o resources.

Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs said last week she was “looking at all the options” and hasn’t decided what to do about the containers after her Jan. 5. inauguration. She previously suggested the containers be repurposed as affordable housing, an increasingly popular option for homeless and low-income people.

“I don’t know how much it will cost to remove the containers and what the cost will be,” Hobbs told Phoenix PBS TV station KAET in an interview Wednesday.

Arizona has been told by federal agencies that the containers are on federal land and that is unlawful. When ordered to stop, Ducey responded on October 21 by suing the government so now the case is in court. Environmental groups say the containers disrupt natural water systems and endanger species. The federal agencies want Ducey’s complaint dismissed.

Ducey insists Arizona holds sole or shared jurisdiction over the 60-foot (18.2 meter) strip the containers rest on and has a constitutional right to protect residents from “imminent danger of criminal and humanitarian crises.”

“Arizona is going to do the job that Joe Biden refuses to do — secure the border in any way we can.” Ducey said when Arizona sued the U.S. government. “We’re not backing down.”

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Ducey is doing what Governor Abbott is doing in Texas. He’s doing Joe Biden’s job. The White House can call it a stunt all they want but governors have to act to keep their states safe, to the best of their ability, especially when the president will not do his job. It does not sound like Katie Hobbs is much of a border hawk and that’s unfortunate, both for Arizona and for the country. Governor Abbott needs all the partners he can get to help him secure the southern border.

Sheriff Hathaway is a Democrat who won his election in 2020 in a landslide.

Hathaway, a 61-year-old Democrat from Rio Rico, is the former head of the local Drug Enforcement Administration office. He pitched himself to voters this year by saying he’d stand up to fear-mongering at the border while making the Sheriff’s Office “a fun place to work again” for patrol deputies.

Elections have consequences.

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 24, 2024
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