Borderland Residents Shut Down Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s Illegal Wall

After months of federal inaction and environmental devastation, a community of neighbors organized a resistance and won.

Photo illustration: Elise Swain/The Intercept; Photo: Ryan Devereaux/The Intercept

Last week, the Justice Department sued the state of Arizona and its governor, Doug Ducey, for installing a shipping container wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. This week on Intercepted: Ryan Devereaux, an investigative reporter with The Intercept, breaks down Ducey’s makeshift, multimillion-dollar container wall. Devereaux tells the story of everyday people and community members who live along the border, and how they stood up to the governor and won.

Ryan Deveraux: Michael and Christie Brown resisted putting a barrier around their beloved desert home for years, but the nights were getting too dangerous. It was a question of safety. They needed a fence. 

Michael Brown: My house is about ten miles north of the border.

RD: The Browns live at the foot of the rugged Huachuca Mountains in Cochise County, Arizona. Like many of their neighbors, the Browns’s worry was javelinas — tenacious borderland omnivores often mistaken for wild pigs. Their dogs had been attacked. Their garden was in peril. Javelina damage is the kind of thing that keeps the Browns up at night. A purported wave of migrants laying siege to their community is not. 

MB: In ten years I’ve only seen one migrant.

RD: But in late October, Gov. Doug Ducey began unloading thousands of shipping containers on the border in the Coronado National Forest. The container wall was supposed to thwart an alleged “invasion” of immigrants on the Brown’s doorsteps. 

Topped with concertina wire and welded together, the nearly 9,000-pound boxes would be stacked two-high on land where the Browns chop wood every winter, where they took their sons hiking and camping as kids, and where they still hike and camp to this day.

MB: This area I’ve cut wood there for probably ten years. So I’m out there a few times each year and it’s just a really peaceful, quiet, beautiful area — grasslands, oaks.

RD: The valley where Ducey was setting his sights was one of the few protected desert ecosystems still intact after the Trump years. 

MB: And on October 24th we heard that Governor Ducey had started stacking containers west of the Coronado National Monument.

RD: Two days after Ducey’s project began, the Browns climbed in their truck and set off into the mountains to see it for themselves.

MB: And we drove down to the border, we got close to the border and stopped for a guard — a private security guard.

[Audio from construction site plays]

RD: The scene was horrifying. Heavy duty pickups were ripping down the border road hauling in shipping containers on trailers. The containers were then transferred onto a large military truck that raced down the road running parallel to the border, blaring a loud horn as it passed. 

At the end of the line, the containers were wrapped in a thick chain and hoisted by backhoes. Swinging precariously through the air, they were plopped in the dirt then shoved into place with a forklift. The clanking and screeching of metal on metal filled the otherwise quiet landscape. The grinding of the heavy vehicles on the desert soil enveloped the entire area in a thick cloud of fine dust. 

As they neared the border, the Browns were stopped at an ad hoc checkpoint. A bald man, dressed in black with reflective sunglasses and body armor, approached. 

Christie Brown: Yeah, we can see your project…

MB: You don’t have any dust control here. You don’t have any signs posted up. 

Security Guard: There are signs posted up. 

MB: Where? 

CB: No there’s not. [CROSS TALK] We came all the way back here and there are no signs. 

RD: The guard wore no insignia and refused to say who he worked for. Michael asked if he could drive up to the containers and take some photos. 

MB: Can I drive up and look at it? 

Security Guard: No, you can’t. 

MB: Why not?

Security Guard: I’m not answering any more questions, sir.

RD:  Christie was incensed. 

CB: I’ll walk up there and take a picture of your sign. 

Security Guard: This is a dangerous area, ma’am. 

CB: Yeah, we just passed some of your dangerous drivers on the road, blowing dust everywhere, driving fast. 

RD: Suited with walkie talkies and a body cam, the guard shrugged. 

Security Guard: I mean, this is a desert. 

CB: This is our national land. 

Security Guard:  This is also the state of Arizona. 

CB: No it is not. This is federal property. 

Security Guard:  Are you a federal employee? 

Michael Brown: I was and I do know the laws. 

Security Guard:  OK.

CB:  And I know. I read the papers and I know this is an illegal operation and I don’t know why the national forest isn’t down here telling you to get the hell off their land. 

[Intercepted theme music plays]

Ryan Deveraux: This is Intercepted.

I’m Ryan Devereaux, an investigative journalist with The Intercept. 

For the past few months, I’ve been digging into Governor Ducey’s make-shift container wall. Ducey, who’s leaving office in January, has committed at least $95 million to this effort.

For seven weeks, the Biden administration watched as the governor broke law after law — laying a massive, unauthorized wall across a remote stretch of treasured public land. In the face of federal inaction, local residents put their bodies on the line to stop the project. Last week, after nearly two months of silence, the U.S. government filed a lawsuit against the governor demanding that the construction be halted.

As of this week, Ducey’s wall of containers still stands — though lawyers for the state have informed the federal government that construction on the project has ceased. Whether the existing containers will be taken down — and if so, when — remains to be seen. 

Arizona’s wall of shipping containers is a story about immigration and conservation, of public lands and insurrection. But as the weeks went by, it turned into something more.

In the shadow of Ducey’s wall, a roughly four-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border became the setting for a remarkable and unlikely story of everyday people who, with no one to count on but each other, stood up against the most powerful man in their state and won. This is their story.

[Inquisitive music begins]

Michael Brown has lived in southern Arizona for nearly 50 years and knows as much about border walls as anyone. As an inspector and contract manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for two decades, he oversaw the construction of Border Patrol stations. In 2007, he installed the first federally contracted wall in Arizona. He continued to oversee border wall construction across the southwest before retiring in the spring of 2021. 

Looking out across the landscape, Michael saw a reckless operation that he would have shut down in a heartbeat. After their encounter with the guard at the container wall, Michael decided to walk through the brush, snapping photos of birds while taking in evidence of environmental damage. 

MB: And Christi stayed at the truck. And shortly after I started hiking, a truck pulled up close to her and just sat there and watched her.

RD:  A man parked nearby and climbed into the bed of his truck with a pair of binoculars. He watched Christie for an hour until Michael returned, then continued to watch as they drove away. An hour later, the Browns were back home when the doorbell rang.

MB: And we were home for about 20 minutes, and the doorbell rang and there were two deputy sheriffs and they said that my truck had been reported at the hotel of these border workers. And they came in. I asked them in.

RD: It was Sheriff Mark Dannels’ heavily subsidized and much-advertised border strike force. The deputies told the 67-year-old they’d received a complaint that a truck like his, carrying four suspicious men, was spotted outside a hotel where the governor’s contractors were staying. The men were frightened.

MB: They asked me if I had been down to the border. And I said I had. I told them we had spoken to a guard. I actually showed them a video of us speaking to the guard. Pretty shortly a third deputy pulled up at my house, which I really thought was odd, to send three deputies out. 

And so we talked for a bit. I showed them my house. They like the adobes and they soon afterwards left.

RD: Michael explained that he and Christie had simply gone to see the container wall. They never stopped at a motel. He showed the deputies cellphone video of their interaction with the guard. Before long, the deputies’ demeanor softened, they turned friendly and appeared satisfied. As they left, one of the men remarked to Michael that the governor’s wall was a “sensitive political situation.”

Sitting at his dining room table a month later, Michael was still processing the deputies’ visit.

MB: I knew the guards out there had taken my license plate number and made up something, I guess. So it was kind of surprising to have three deputies here.

RD: In the intervening weeks, Ducey had cut across nearly three miles of pristine desert despite multiple warnings from the U.S. Forest Service that he was breaking the law. But at this point the feds were doing nothing to stop him. The Browns were shocked.

MB: The Forest Service is mandated to preserve and to protect our national lands. These lands should be here for future generations. 

RD:  In the face of inaction, the Browns were left with one choice: gather as many friends, neighbors, and allies as they could and stop the governor themselves.

While the Browns were taking in their first ground-level glimpses of Ducey’s wall, Russ McSpadden was monitoring the scene from above. 

Russ McSpadden: I’ve been, I’ve been coming, um, to the site of, uh, construction activity here every week for a bit more than a month now. 

RD: Russ works for the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity. He was documenting the construction crew’s activity. 

RM: They’ve got bulldozers knocking over oak trees and forest service land and illegally building new roads, and then obviously placing shipping containers illegally at the border — just south of here, where they’ve completed a large section of wall runs, you know, right through jaguar critical habitat.

RD: Ducey selected AshBritt, a Florida-based disaster response company with significant ties to the Republican Party, for the Coronado container installation. When I reached out with questions, AshBritt directed me to contact the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, the state agency responsible for the project. The department, in turn, directed me to the governor’s office.

Ducey’s office did not respond to questions for this story. A spokesperson for the governor did, however, speak to me during my earlier reporting on the container wall. Ducey’s press secretary, C.J. Karamargin, defended the project and said that the Biden administration had failed in its duty to secure the border, and that left the governor with no choice but to build a border wall himself.

During the Trump years, Russ was among a network of Arizona advocates who fought to counter the narrative that the former president’s vows to “build the wall” had amounted to nothing. They did so with compelling visual evidence, documenting the Department of Homeland Security tearing through many of the most treasured desert ecosystems on the planet, blowing up national monuments, and depleting a sacred Native American oasis. 

RM: It’s [a] globally recognized biodiversity hotspot for species, for species of cats, ocelot, jaguar, mountain lion, and bobcat live here, bears live here.

RD: Russ’s encyclopedic knowledge of Arizona’s backcountry is matched by his passion for the animals that live there. From iridescent bugs to lightning-fast pronghorn, Russ loves them all. But one borderland resident stands above all others: el tigre de la frontera, the jaguar. 

RM: It’s [a] federally protected habitat for this endangered species. And so, as part of my work is documenting and understanding the presence of jaguars in southern Arizona. There’s a really small number that exists in this state, and we’ve gotten photos and videos with trail cameras of a wild jaguar just to the mountains, just to the north of here.

RD: The Center for Biological Diversity has been central in the fight to return the big cats to their historic range across the American Southwest. As part of the Center’s legal efforts, the federal government was forced to designate about twelve hundred square miles in Arizona and New Mexico as critical jaguar habitat in 2014, limiting the kinds of activity permitted there. 

That habitat included land on the western slope of the Huachuca Mountains in the Coronado National Forest where Ducey began dropping his containers on October 24. 

[Sound of airplane] 

Russ was in a single-engine airplane flying low over the border when the project began. His phone rang. Robin Silver, a co-founder of the Center, was on the line. He told Russ to get to Coronado right away. Tell the pilot to land, he said, or better yet, fly to the installation site.

I happened to be in the air with Russ that day. For more than a month, we had both been trying to confirm rumors that Ducey was preparing a mass deployment of containers somewhere outside Nogales, likely in the Coronado National Forest. Hundreds of the metal boxes had been stored at an unused armory in the border city. But those boxes began quietly disappearing. The governor’s office was being cagey, confirming that Ducey was eyeing locations but refusing to confirm where. 

Russ and I took an airplane tour to scout for signs of activity in the Pajarito Mountains. By the time we touched back down in Tucson, it was clear we should have been flying further east. 

Two days after our flight, I climbed into Russ’s work truck. Setting off in the morning, we pulled into the Coronado National Memorial before noon, then hiked south along a ridge with a commanding view over the San Rafael Valley. 

[Sound of hiking] 

Though we were miles from the site, the noise of Ducey’s project echoed through the valley. One after another, pickups pulling containers came rumbling down the Forest Service road that leads to the border. Plumes of dust curled above them. Russ set his backpack in the grass and unloaded his drone. I leaned against a wire fence and squinted into the valley. In just two days, Ducey’s contractors had fashioned a shipping container fort to serve as their base of operations. Armed guards waited at the entrance.

[Sound of drone]

The drone zipped into the air and within seconds was out of sight. We spent two hours on the ridge watching Ducey’s trucks transform wilderness to junkyard. Trump’s wall building was jarring for anyone who saw it up close, but this ramshackle operation was something else entirely. 

Fox 10 Phoenix Anchor: The border battle between Governor Ducey and the federal government rages on tonight.

Fox 10 Phoenix Anchor: Today, the governor filed a lawsuit after the feds ordered Arizona to take down the double-stacked shipping containers that are filling the gaps along the border.

RD: On the Friday before Governor Ducey’s container installation began, a team of private attorneys filed a lawsuit in Arizona federal court on behalf of the governor against the Biden administration’s land management agencies.

Ducey was arguing that the federal land along the border actually falls under state jurisdiction, particularly in times of emergency and cases of invasion. Ducey declared both were present in Arizona in August.

Governor Ducey: The southern border is a federal responsibility. But in Arizona we’re taking every action possible – and I would say aggressive action – to protect this community, our state, and the law-enforcement professionals who keep us safe.

RD: The governor was saying all of this, despite the fact that the Biden administration was already in the process of filling those gaps. Ducey’s reading of the law would grant border governors unprecedented power to sidestep federal statutes that have governed public lands for generations. The Center for Biological Diversity quickly filed suit against Ducey citing the threat to jaguar habitat under the Endangered Species Act.

RM: The Center for Biological Diversity filed a 60 day notice of intent to sue for obstructing important migration corridors for jaguar and ocelot. This is an ESA, Endangered Species Act, violation.

RD: The Center also intervened as defendants in the governor’s lawsuit against the feds. Russ submitted a declaration in the case. That declaration was filed November 1, seven days before the midterm elections. Silver – the co-founder of the Center – was sending his images from the field directly to Biden’s top land managers, including the Ducey lawsuit defendants, as well as Department of Interior Secretary Deb Halaand. 

With four decades of experience suing the federal government, often successfully, Silver’s connections in Washington ran deep. The Center’s longtime co-founder demanded that the feds do their job and stop Ducey. The message he got back was clear: wait until the elections are through. 

Chris Hayes, MSNBC: We are now projecting that Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is in fact the winner in the Arizona gubernatorial race, this will make her [fade out].

RD: Less than 24 hours after Arizona’s polls closed on November 8, Russ and I were on the ground in Coronado. 

[Sound of truck blaring horn]

This time, instead of watching from the ridge, we drove directly to the site. Up close, the scene had a Mad Max feel. Swirling dust. A wall of containers crowned with razor wire. Trees snapped, trampled, and shoved into mangled heaps. The contractors had put down more than a mile of boxes since our last visit. The desert washes that provide run off for monsoon rains were blocked. Most startling of all were the bus-sized military vehicles racing down the narrow road running along the border. It felt genuinely unsafe for all living things in the area, including the workers.

[Sounds of trucks]

Security Guard: This area is very dangerous.

RM: Understand, but this is Forest Service. They can stop.

Security Guard: Please, don’t walk through here.

RD: We passed through the container fort on the way back to our vehicles. The contractors exploded, shouting that we couldn’t be there and that they would call the sheriff.

RM: We were walking, you know, we weren’t on the road. We were, we were just walking through back to our cars and, you know, one guy just started yelling and, and telling us to, to get outta here.

And I was pretty adamant that we were on Forest Service land and if he wasn’t Forest Service, he couldn’t tell us to do that. And, he threatened, he threatened the group, you know, it was a couple of us, and he said he’d put some people in the hospital recently and he was ready to do it again. You know, I mean, it was just a threat. It didn’t feel, I didn’t feel like he really meant it. He was just being a shithead. [Laughs]

[Suspenseful music starts]

RD: By mid-November, the federal government still hadn’t stepped in. Deep in the Huachucas, close encounters with Ducey’s project were beginning to have a radicalizing effect.

North of Ducey’s container wall, a zigzagging road leads the way to Tucson. The views in Lyle Canyon are stunning, but the backcountry highway is barely two lanes. The curves are blind. The shoulder is marked by drop offs and walls of earth. There are no lights.

Martin Brown — no relation to Michael and Christie — lives in the canyon and teaches high school art in Tucson. He treasures his scenic commute, but it requires taking off before dawn. The most dangerous portion of his drive is in the canyon. Last month, he nearly died there.

MB: Yeah, I would say that was the closest I’ve come to death, ever, you know. Every morning, I pass this convoy of trucks and I am terrified now after that experience. I just happened to go down a hill and around the corner and there was a truck in my lane. And if I hadn’t been coffee’d up and alert that day, I wouldn’t have made it, it would have hit me head-on. But I swerved off the road just in time and managed to not overcorrect – I don’t know how.

RD: Martin’s neighbor, Kate Scott, had her own close call with the governor’s contractors. She was outraged. Her greatest worry though was the environmental damage that the container wall was causing. 

Kate Scott: Arizona is blessed with along the border having all these incredible wildlife refuges, national monuments. You name it, we have it. And we were mortally wounded.

RD: A veterinary technician by training, Kate runs the Madrean Archipelago Wildlife Center, where she rehabilitates injured raptors.

KS: This is inhumane. It’s a crime against nature. Everyone in America should be mad because it’s going through their national forest and done in such a anti-democratic manner. It might as well be,  it’s another form of insurrection to me. It’s like you’re saying, “I’m not going to follow the rule of law, President Biden.”

RD: Kate wasn’t the only one feeling that way. Jennifer Wrenn and her husband and Andy Kayner live further south down Lyle Canyon. They are among Arizona’s closest residents to Ducey’s wall. For more than a month, their mornings began with the clamoring of convoys passing their front door. They continued non-stop until sundown. 

Last month, Jennifer put out an email call to her neighbors to see what could be done. She and Kate started talking. The Browns were looped in. Together, they began brainstorming the possibility of a protest at the construction site. Nobody knew, for sure, what that would look like. Would the contractors run them off? Would they call the sheriff? The group decided they needed to do a test run.

[Upbeat music begins]

On the morning of Sunday, November 20, the neighbors, along with the Browns, Russ from the Center for a Biological Diversity, and a handful of others, drove out to the container wall. As usual, they were met by one of the site’s private security contractors. This time, however, they had numbers. 

Security Guard: We talk to the Border Patrol, the sheriff, the Forest Service,” the guard said. Everybody comes out here and they all have our back.

Protester: You’ve been given injunctions against this!

Security Guard: I haven’t been given anything. I am security. That’s it. I’m out here trying to support my family. That’s it.


Security Guard: I’m not doing anything. I’m doing my job. 

Protester: But your job is protecting an illegal operation. 

Security Guard: Whether or not it’s illegal, it’s state-funded and whatever the case is.

RD: Michael Brown asked the man who he worked for.

Security Guard: I work for a security company.

MB: Who?

Security Guard: I was in the Marine Corps.

MB: What’s the name of your company?

Security Guard: I don’t need to tell you that. It’s a private company.

RD: The residents stuck around as one hour bled into the next. They noticed the construction stopped. At 3pm., the contractors packed up and left. They hadn’t put down a single container since the locals arrived. 

The test run at Coronado had been a revelation for the valley’s agitators: not only was protest possible, if people went to the site the work stopped. Kate circulated a call to action to trusted contacts. On the morning of November 29, the protesters converged on the container wall. Everybody had their signs. Many were of retirement age. 

Kate Brown: Well I want you all to know how thankful and grateful I am for you to be here today.

RD: The sound of approaching trucks came echoing down the canyon. The protesters scrambled to their vehicles. At 10:30 a.m., they reached the ad hoc checkpoint that led to the wall. They didn’t stop. 

A private security contractor with a pistol on his belt held a walkie talkie to his ear. A voice crackled through the receiver.

RM: What’s going on this way, this is closed?

Walkie Talkie Voice: “They got all their vehicles coming in. And they’re heading…”

RD: One of the massive military vehicles that ran containers to the end of the wall was preparing a delivery. The protesters stood in its way. The vehicle stopped. With the gargantuan container-mover half-parked on the border road, its one working headlight still on, Kate delivered an impassioned speech while the private security guards wandered over to the protesters’ cars and began eyeing their license plates. 

KS: This is your public land. They are here illegally, they have no say over you at all: your body, your person, your car, your equipment, your anything.

[Sound of sheriff pulling up]

Tim Williams: Tim Williams, I’m with the  Cochise County Sheriff office. Is there like a head guy around with you guys here? Someone that’s in charge.

RD: About two hours after the protesters arrived, a black pickup with tinted windows pulled into the site. Two men stepped out. Both wore ballcaps and beards. Badges swung from their necks as they approached. The larger of the two introduced himself as Sergeant Tim Williams, head of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department’s Southeastern Arizona Border Regional Enforcement task force. That’s a special operations unit better known as SABRE. It was the same unit that visited the Browns’ home a month before. Williams explained that his office got a call about the protesters.

TW: So we understand that you guys are protesting here.  We just request that you guys keep it kind of civil and try not to get hurt or do anything like that stuff.


Michael Brown: We are. This is totally civil. 

Tim Williams: And we’re just requesting that on our side. You guys got any questions for us? No, alright.

RD: Michael did have a question. 

Michael Brown: Well, actually I do. Do you know how many people actually cross from that mountain west?

Tim Williams: Yeah, give or take right around 1,000 a month that we know of, probably, between 500 and 1,000 in this corridor here.

RD: Over the next hour, Williams painted a portrait of Coronado as a war zone, invoking language justifying lethal force that I often encountered covering U.S. drone strikes.

Protester: So how do you know that information?

Tim Williams: I actually run the border unit for the Sheriff’s office, so if you actually look up SABRE. It’s Southern Arizona Border Region Enforcement, there’s a whole bunch of things out there. We run a national camera system from all over the state of Arizona. So we actually see them on our cameras. And we have cameras all over this area watching. So we are actually able to document. So when I say that, you know, how many, we actually document how many come across.

So in the Cochise County area alone we’re up in the thousands that we see every month. And these guys are the ones decked out in camouflage. They all run from us. They’re all in groups. Most of them are what we call military-aged males.They’re between the ages of like 15 and 25 and they’re all coming across in large groups.

RD: Michael interjected.

MB: I cut wood out here. I’ve been doing it for 10-12 years.

TW: Yeah.

MB: I’ve only seen one.

TW: Yeah, let me see if I still have the picture…

RD: Williams insisted Cochise County was suffering a wave of unauthorized border crossers of historic proportions. 

RD: What do you attribute that explosion to?

TW: You know, a lot of them, the illegals will tell you directly that it’s President Biden has changed policy. 

RD: Which policy?

TW: The immigration. They feel like they come across – they’ll actually tell you that it’s changed, that’s what they’re actually coming across, is that President Biden has made it easier for them to be here.

RD: When the topic turned to the container wall rising up before us, Williams suddenly became guarded.

TW: So opinions are something I don’t talk about. But you can absolutely ask our elected officials on their opinions. I know when you do any project like this, environmental studies have to be done and all that stuff.

RD: They didn’t. For this project there were zero.

TW: That I have no idea.

RD: The morning after the protest, Coronado National Forest issued its first public statement on Ducey’s project. The message: stay away. 

The statement read: “The Forest Service has informed the State that the presence of the containers is unlawful. Until the situation is resolved, visitors to the Coronado National Forest, including those seeking to recreate, hunt, or collect fuelwood, should refrain from entering the area where the State’s activities are taking place or otherwise exercise caution when traveling the area.” The agency highlighted the presence of “unauthorized armed security personnel on site.”

[Mysterious music begins]

The Forest Service wanted to avoid a conflict, but the protesters on the ground were already in one. The same day the agency warned the public to stay away, demonstrators were back at the site. Once again, their presence stopped construction. It had become an ongoing effort to do what the federal government would not: protect public lands from illegal destruction. The protests continued and a new younger group of demonstrators joined in. Ducey needed to adjust.

On December 6, at 6:45 a.m., Kate returned to find the governor’s work crews had added 17 stacks of containers in the night. She alerted the growing group of volunteers. If Ducey’s contractors were going to work at night, then people needed to be on the ground at night. 

Within hours, a plan took shape. A shift schedule was created. Food and overnight supplies were purchased. There were eight public land defenders on the ground that night. They needed to secure two locations: the staging area where Ducey’s containers were kept, and the end of the wall where the heavy equipment was parked. 

The contractors arrived. For the protesters, there was no tapping out. If they moved, construction would commence. The contractors turned on their vehicles. Some slept while the activists stood. Four long, cold hours passed. At 3 a.m., the governor’s contractors gave up and left.

[Sounds of protesters talking by campfire]

People were ready for the contractors to try another night installation, but it didn’t happen. Instead, strangers and neighbors created a 24/7 encampment at the work site. I drove down from Tucson to spend the night.

[Protesters talking by campfire]

The moon was nearly full, casting a new light on the same landscape everyone saw during the day.

[Protester playing guitar and singing]

The next morning, we awoke to frost on our tents. The desert was still. Ducey’s men did not return for work.

About a week later with the protest movement continuing to block the placement of containers the feds finally stepped in. The Justice Department sued Ducey over the placement of the shipping containers. That same day, Ducey’s men began transferring the unused box to a state prison complex outside Tucson.

Ducey’s Democratic successor, Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs, has said she will stop adding containers to the wall. She has not, however, committed to taking the existing structures down. If she does, it could cost as much or more than it did to put them in. If she doesn’t, it will mean the collapse of a remarkable binational ecosystem and the death of a stunning Sonoran Desert landscape set aside for all to enjoy.


And that’s it for this episode of Intercepted. Follow us on Twitter @Intercepted.

You can also watch a video we produced about the neighbors’ efforts to stop Ducey’s wall and read the full story at The Intercept dot com. 

Intercepted is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept. 

Special thanks to video producer Kitara Cahana for the recorded interviews you heard in this episode.  

Jose Olivares is Lead Producer. Supervising Producer is Laura Flynn. Ali Gharib edited this story. Roger Hodge is editor in chief of The Intercept. And Rick Kwan mixed our show. Our theme music, as always, was composed by DJ Spooky.

If you’d like to support our work, go to — your donation, no matter what the amount, makes a real difference.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to Intercepted. And definitely do leave us a rating or review — it helps people find us. If you enjoy this podcast, be sure to also check out Deconstructed, as well as Murderville.

If you want to give us feedback, email us at Thanks so much.

We’re taking a short holiday break but will be back in the new year with new episodes.

Until next time, I’m Ryan Devereaux.

Update: December 21, 2022
The state of Arizona has agreed to remove Gov. Doug Ducey’s container wall along the border, in response to the lawsuit filed by the federal government.

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