The Justice Department (DOJ) is suing Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and his administration over the use of shipping containers to build a wall along the state’s southern border with Mexico.
The DOJ filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on Wednesday, claiming that the project trespasses on federal property.
“Arizona has unlawfully and without authority failed to remove the shipping containers from lands owned by the United States or over which the United States holds easements, thereby damaging the United States,” the lawsuit argues.
The legal move comes after Ducey issued an executive order in August directing the state’s Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to begin a Yuma County project. The 3,820 feet of the previously open border was closed with 130 shipping containers in just 11 days.
The project then expanded to other parts of the border, with 6,680 feet of containers stacked two-high throughout Cochise County by early November. That section is estimated to take more than 2,700 shipping containers to fill the 10-mile gap along the southern border.
Cochise County Border Barrier update 💪
334 shipping containers
And we’re not slowing down yet! pic.twitter.com/vzxGj1xsGN
— Doug Ducey (@DougDucey) November 7, 2022
In October, the state filed its own lawsuit to affirm its right to continue using the shipping containers to help curb unlawful crossings.
“Our border communities are overwhelmed by illegal activity as a result of the Biden administration’s failure to secure the southern border,” Ducey said in a statement.
“Arizona is taking action to protest on behalf of our citizens. With this lawsuit, we’re pushing back against efforts by federal bureaucrats to reverse the progress we’ve made. The safety and security of Arizona and its citizens must not be ignored. Arizona is going to do the job that Joe Biden refuses to do — secure the border in any way we can. We’re not backing down,” he added.
The lawsuit came after Ducey refused to comply with a demand by the Biden administration to remove containers in the Yuma County area. Arizona officials told the Biden administration that the state would not remove the containers until a permanent barrier is constructed.
The Biden administration has warned that Ducey’s containers have interfered with land near both the Morelos Dam and land belonging to the Cocopah Indian Tribe’s West Reservation. It has also argued the barriers interfere with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s future project to fill holes in the existing wall.
In addition, environmental activists have recently targeted Ducey’s shipping container project. The Washington Post reported efforts by climate activists to halt the container border wall, including using their bodies to stand in the way of machinery and sitting on containers in protest.
Ducey leaves office in January, with Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs set to take over. She is expected to stop any further container wall work along the border.
“It’s not land that’s our land to put things on. That’s one problem. The containers aren’t working. There’s many pictures of people climbing over them,” Hobbs said. “It’s a political stunt. It’s a visual barrier that is not actually providing an effective barrier to entry, and I think a waste of taxpayer dollars.”