- Arizona lawmakers have introduced a bill that would amend state regulations and exempt border wall projects built on private property from having to secure a building permit. State House Majority Leader Warren Petersen and 15 other Republicans are sponsoring the bill.
- If HB2084 is adopted, counties, cities and towns would be prevented from requiring nonprofit corporations or property owners to obtain a building permit if the permit is for construction of a border wall; if the project is on or adjacent to an international boundary line; and if the property owner has agreed to the construction in writing. The bill also presumes that the state will give permission for border wall projects on state-owned land. The projects must still abide by federal regulations, such as those dealing with environmental impact.
- Peterson said the changes would streamline border wall construction in Arizona but this week said he would amend the bill to require that the owners of barrier projects be required to submit affidavits of completion, signed and sealed by a licensed engineer, verifying that they were built according to applicable engineering and safety standards.
Peterson announced via his Twitter account that since introducing the bill he has heard from at least one property owner in the state that would like to build a section of border wall on their property. In response, Brian Kolfage, who heads up the nonprofit, privately-funded We Build the Wall organization, tweeted, "GOP-backed bill would make it easier to build border wall on private property in Arizona. Thank you @votewarren this bill is going to save lives, and funnel migrants to the front door to immigrate the legal way."
The proposed Arizona legislation would certainly help We Build the Wall avoid local regulatory roadblocks.
Last Memorial Day weekend, the organization built a piece of border wall on private property in Sunland, New Mexico. After the wall was substantially complete, the city of Sunland issued a cease and desist order based on what it said were deficiencies in the project's permit application. City officials eventually gave the project the green light.
What hasn't been as easy to overcome for private border wall advocates are federal regulations.
The Sunland wall project, according to the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), blocked access to a nearby dam, so the commission and We Build the Wall had to come to an agreement about leaving a wall gate unlocked during certain hours.
Last month, a federal judge blocked construction on a similar wall near Mission, Texas, until the USIBWC could review plans and ensure that it would not create significant issues with water flow or the floodplain. The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 9. We Build the Wall and its general contractor Fisher Industries, whose $400 million Yuma, Arizona, border wall contract with the US Army Corps of Engineers is being investigated by the Department of Defense Inspector General, has been given permission to grade the land in the meantime.