Small groups of protesters have been shutting down crews’ work on a barrier along the southern border pushed by outgoing Arizona GOP Governor Doug Ducey.
Ducey will soon be replaced by recently elected Democrat Katie Hobbs. Trump-backed Republican Kari Lake, who Hobbs defeated, is predictably challenging her loss in court, but there is no clear indication her efforts will be successful. Lake already has a history of defeats in court and recently saw sanctions imposed on her legal team in a lawsuit in which she and a Republican co-plaintiff who ran for Secretary of State were trying to force a hand count of ballots in Arizona this year amid conspiracy theory-driven concerns about the equipment normally used to tabulate votes.
As for Ducey, the federal government has repeatedly pushed the departing Republican to stop the construction efforts along the border, pushes to which the governor has responded with litigation challenging federal authority over certain areas along the border. The barrier Ducey’s team is creating, this time in Cochise County, is comprised of shipping containers — and as any observer might be able to imagine, that’s not a surefire way to create a barrier that is impenetrable. There are large gaps in what Ducey’s team has assembled via the work of contractors. The protesters challenging these efforts, which are unfolding on national forest land, are putting themselves physically in the way of further construction, and some are sticking around even overnight to more extensively stop the efforts.
One of those involved cited concerns about damaging impacts on the environment. “Politics aside, what this is doing to the wildlife corridor, what this is doing to the environment, is a travesty, is horrific,” Kate Scott of the Madrean Archipelago Wildlife Center said. As of Saturday, it had been the better part of a week since construction, at least in terms of adding new containers to the ramshackle display in Cochise County, continued.
Ducey’s lawsuit challenging federal authority in this area remains active. Local news coverage in Arizona noted the federal team recently asked for the dismissal of the case, which they characterized as “flawed on so many fronts.” Some plans previously discussed by Ducey’s team could cost nearly $100 million in taxpayer money, although Hobbs has predictably said she will not pursue further construction efforts. The protesters gathering in hopes of blocking further construction before Hobbs takes over only reach around a dozen at a time, but their presence is effective. “Now people are there to stand in front of working construction vehicles at any time of day or night,” the Arizona Daily Star said. In one incident cited in the same report, a construction team member driving a bulldozer drove so close to those protesting that demonstrators could touch the equipment. Ducey’s team apparently refused to comment when pressed by the Star about the large gaps in the barrier or the trees that have been destroyed, although a spokesperson claimed work hasn’t totally ceased.