Arizona officials are crying foul play after part of the state’s temporary border barrier mysteriously fell over.
Part of the barrier, which is made of shipping containers stacked on top of each other and welded together, was shown lying on its side away from the rest of the barrier, according to photos taken by Univision Noticias Arizona correspondent Claudia Ramos.
Construction crews onsite initially said the containers were knocked over by the wind, but a spokesperson for Governor Doug Ducey (R) said Wednesday that while southern Arizona frequently sees high winds, it is unlikely that they were strong enough to knock over the barrier.
“The idea that it was a weather-related event seems unlikely,” Ducey’s communications director, C.J. Karamargin, told the Washington Examiner Wednesday. “These things weigh 8,800 pounds. There were two of them together — 8,800 pounds is basically the weight of a Ford F-450. We have a lot of strong winds in Arizona. You don’t see a lot of Ford F-450s flying around when we have strong winds.”
Border Patrol agents found the barrier toppled over around midnight on Monday, the Washington Examiner reported. The barriers on one end of the wall had not yet been bolted down and welded to support structures when work crews left the site Sunday evening. Construction crews told Ramos that the containers had been knocked over by severe weather on Sunday. But photos from the damaged barrier, shared with the Examiner, showed that the container had been severely scratched and dented, and there was at least one large puncture at the bottom of the container. The damage “shows some sort of equipment was used to move them because it dented and put a hole in one of the sides of the container,” Karamargin told the New York Post. “That doesn’t happen with wind.”
Construction crews were initially barred from responding to the site and securing the barrier by Border Patrol agents, who cited “heavy activity” in the area. But crews were allowed to return at around 6 a.m. local time, reinstalling the barrier by 7 a.m., the Examiner reported.
Karamargin told the Examiner that the effort to knock over the barrier was proof that it was necessary and worthwhile. “Some people attempted to dismiss this as a pointless effort because this is not the main route through which people enter the United States,” he said. “If this didn’t matter, if this barrier that we are erecting was irrelevant, or somehow misplaced, then why would someone make the effort to topple over nearly 18,000 pounds of shipping container? It just doesn’t make sense on its face. It doesn’t make sense. Our goal, of course, is to make Arizona communities safer. We clearly struck a nerve.”
The shipping containers were one piece of an improvised border barrier constructed by the state of Arizona while it waits for the Biden administration to install a permanent wall, after the administration reversed course and announced it would fill several border wall gaps in Arizona.
The structure, which stands about 22 feet high and fills a 1,000-foot gap in the border wall, is comprised of about 60 9×40 foot shipping containers, double-stacked and welded together, and topped with razor wire. Ducey announced the construction last Friday, and it was completed over the weekend.