PHOENIX — Santa Cruz County Sheriff David Hathaway said on Wednesday he doesn’t support the placement of double-stacked shipping containers along the southern Arizona border as he does not believe there is an invasion.
Hathaway, a Democrat and former head of the local Drug Enforcement Administration office, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Gaydos and Chad Show the containers are illegal and he will prosecute contractors hired by Gov. Doug Ducey that attempt to place them along the border.
His department oversees Nogales, which has four main ports of entry into the country, including commercial, pedestrian and tourist ports of entry, the sheriff said.
“The shipping container wall is moving towards my county — it’s six miles away from my county now. It’s in Cochise County and it’s moving eastward toward Santa Cruz County, and there’s all kinds of things wrong with this,” Hathaway said.
He said the main thing for him is some federal organizations, including the National Guard, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation, have said the double-stacked containers are illegal.
Hathaway said if the containers arrive in Santa Cruz County, he’ll arrest construction and security crews and charge them with “illegal dumping on public lands.”
As Title 42 — a COVID-related border policy that limited asylum-seekers’ entry to the U.S. — is set to end in three weeks, officials from both political parties are rushing to put a plan in place.
“This is purely a COVID policy and yet you have the Democrats and Republicans saying ‘Let’s keep a COVID policy in place so that we can’t do the normal immigration processing,” Hathaway explained.
Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls said Tuesday the double-stacked shipping containers have prevented damage to property, protected the community and aided in funneling where the activity mainly happens, but Hathaway vehemently disagreed.
“There is no invasion,” Hathaway said, despite recent record numbers of migrant crossings reported in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
He added: “I can take you to the border where there’s no fence, but all you’re going to hear is the birds chirping and the wind blowing.”
A report released in October said migrants were stopped more than 227,000 times in September at the U.S. border with Mexico, which marked the third-highest month of Joe Biden’s presidency.
But the southern Arizona county official, who was born in Nogales, said he would prefer a four-strand livestock fence along the border.
Another area he would like to see change in is processing times for migrants, as queues can take years for a case to be heard.
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