US sues Arizona governor for ‘infringement’ on his Mexican border wall

The US government sued Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and the state Wednesday over shipping container arrangement as a barrier on the border with Mexicosaid it was trespassing on federal lands.

The complaint filed in US District Court comes three weeks before the Republican governor resigned on behalf of Democratic Governor-elect Katie Hobbs, who has said she opposes the construction.

Ducey told US officials earlier this week that Arizona was willing to help remove the containers that he said were set up as temporary fencing. But he wants the US government to say when it will fill the remaining gaps in the border wall permanently, as it announced a year ago.

He wrote in a letter Tuesday, responding to news of a pending federal complaint.

Border security is central to Donald Trump’s presidency and remains an important issue for Republican politicians.

The Justice Department complaint asks the court to order Arizona to stop placing and discarding containers in the remote San Rafael Valley in southeastern Cochise County.

Work to place up to 3,000 containers at a cost of $95 million is about a third completed, but protesters concerned about its impact on the environment have stopped work in recent days.

“Officials from Reclamation and the Forest Service have notified Arizona that they are encroaching on federal lands,” the complaint reads. The lawsuit also seeks damages to compensate the United States for any damages along the border.

The Justice Department sued on behalf of the Department of Reclamation, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Forestry, which it oversees.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement from Washington that the project “is not an effective barrier, it poses safety hazards to both the public and those working in the area.” area and has caused significant damage to public land.”

“We need serious solutions at our borders, with input from leaders and local communities. Vilsack says stacking shipping containers is not an efficient solution.

The complaint was welcomed by U.S. Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, a Democrat representing southern Arizona. He called the project an “illegal landfill border wall.”

Russ McSpadden, Southwest conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the federal complaint “should be the beginning of an end to Doug Ducey’s lawless assault on national forests that are protected by national forests.” protected and endangered wildlife.”

Ducey wrote to federal officials after being notified of their intention to file a complaint and rejected their argument that the containers “posed a serious risk to public safety and harm to the public.” environment.”

“The number one threat to public safety and harm to the environment comes from the federal government’s failure to act to secure our border,” Ducey wrote, with a halt to construction of the wall. Trump’s border in January 2021 resulted in “increasing numbers of migrants continuing to flow into the state.”

Ducey’s move comes amid a record increase in the flow of migrants to the border. US border officials stopped migrants 2.38 million times for the financial year ended September 30, an increase of 37% from the previous year. The annual total passed 2 million for the first time in August, and more than double the peak of Trump’s presidency, in 2019.

Ducey also dismissed the US government’s claims that the containers impeded the ability of federal agencies to carry out official duties as well as the completion of border infrastructure construction in some areas.

He said he was encouraged by the Biden administration’s earlier announcement that it would fill the gaps in the wall, but that was a year ago.

“Arizona has no choice but to resolve the crisis at its southern border and begin erecting temporary border fences,” the governor wrote.

Hobbs said she sees the project as a political stunt, but has yet to decide what to do with the containers after her January 5 inauguration.

Ducey sued federal officials over their objections to the container wall on October 21, insisting that Arizona has joint or sole jurisdiction over the 60-foot (18.2-meter) strip that the container is located on it and has a constitutional right to protect residents from “an impending criminal and humanitarian crisis.”

Ducey’s effort to build a container wall began in late summer in western Arizona’s Yuma, a popular crossing point, packed with asylum seekers arriving daily and often find ways to overcome new barriers. Containers filled in areas left open when Trump’s 450-mile (724-kilometer) border wall was built. But the remote San Rafael Valley – the site of the latest construction – is often not used by migrants and is not envisaged in Trump’s wall plan.

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