Washington, DC – President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday demanded that the state of Arizona remove hundreds of shipping boxes that it has placed along its southern border with Mexico to plug holes in the border fence.
In a letter sent on Oct. 14, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation told Arizona that several of the double-stacked shipping containers had been placed within its lands and lands belonging to the Cocopah Indian Tribe’s West Reservation, The Hill reported.
The letter alleged the shipping containers had been installed without the tribe’s permission and therefore, violated federal law and should be considered trespassing by the state.
The bureau asked the state to remove the 80 shipping containers on its lands near Morelos Dam and 42 more containers it had determined were resting on tribal lands, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The unauthorized placement of those containers constitutes a violation of federal law and is a trespass against the United States,” the letter read. “That trespass is harming federal lands and resources and impeding Reclamation’s ability to perform its mission.”
The tribe released a statement in support of the federal action, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We believe the Bureau is taking the necessary and appropriate action to resolve this issue,” the Cocopah tribe said in a statement on Oct. 16. “Beyond that, we will continue working side-by-side with local, state and federal law enforcement on securing the border.”
The letter from the bureau also demanded that Arizona stop adding new containers to the prohibited areas in the case of projects that have already been started, The Hill reported.
The Bureau of Reclamation said U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had awarded a contract to close two more gaps on its lands near the dam and planned to award another contract to close two additional gaps near the Morelos Dam in the Yuma area, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In the letter, the bureau said it wanted to avoid conflicts with the two federal contracts that have been awarded and two more that were still pending.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered the shipping containers to be installed along the state’s southern border in August to “close the gaps in Arizona’s southern border wall, regardless of location,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The bureau complained that migrants have continued to enter the United States illegally by going around Ducey’s container walls and cutting through the Cocopah reservation.
“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,” Ducey said when he ordered the containers installed.