YUMA, Ariz. (NewsNation) — The colorful 8,000-pound Conex boxes have become part of the landscape in Yuma, but soon law enforcement and migrants will adjust back to the way things were in August before the shipping containers were installed.
In Cochise County, sources told NewsNation that the removal of the shipping containers, which stretched more than three and a half miles through the Coronado National Forest, began Tuesday morning, where there’s a large contractor presence to remove it rapidly.
NewsNation reached out to the Department of Homeland Security to see when the administration plans to resume wall construction, and the department referred back to a news release from July laying out plans to fill gaps in the border wall, which read, “DHS will move as expeditiously as possible.”
Since then, there hasn’t been an update on the timeline and materials have been sitting in the area for nearly two years, and there is no movement indicating construction will resume anytime soon.
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has called the containers a political stunt even though former Gov. Doug Ducey had agreed to remove them prior to her taking office.
This came after the Biden administration filed a lawsuit, saying the wall was trespassing on federal land as Ducey did not have permission to stack the containers there, and the governor agreed to remove them.
Arizona spent more than $100 million from the border security fund to put up shipping containers along the U.S.-Mexico border, and now the state will shell out an additional $76 million to remove them.
With the barriers gone, Border Patrol agents are worried about losing their operational advantage.
Whether it was 300 or 500 migrants crossing in a single morning in the Yuma sector, agents said they felt as though they were able to manage the ongoing immigration crossing. The shipping container barrier blocked off different breach points and it left one open on tribal land, which acted as a funnel that allowed Border Patrol agents, who are already stretched thin, to respond to large groups in one area.
“It makes it easier operationally so the agents know where people are going to be crossing through the open gaps,” said National Border Patrol Council Vice President Art del Cueto. “It almost seems like this administration just continues to do more and more to give the tactical advantage to the enemy.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that it “will respond to cross-border activity as it occurs and will continue to shift manpower and resources in response to shifts in illegal entries across southern Arizona.”