Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Border Wall Construction Results in a Lawsuit Filed Against Arizona

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Arizona after a two-week standoff between protestors and construction crews building a border wall made of shipping containers. The case asks for “immediate injunctive relief prohibiting” the state from continuing work on the wall, which federal officials say is being built on federal land without required permits.

“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 complaint reads.

The lawsuit follows months of tension between Gov. Doug Ducey’s office and feral agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior, which oversee public land on which the barrier is being built.

In August, Ducey issued an executive order directing the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to fill gaps in the existing border wall in Yuma County using shipping containers. In October, Ducey sued federal officials who head the agencies overseeing public land. The federal government asked that the lawsuit be dismissed.

Recently, Ducey’s office told the Justice Department in a letter that Arizona “stands ready to cooperate with the federal government on construction of a border wall and always has been.” The letter indicated work had been paused.

“This should be the beginning of the end of Doug Ducey’s lawless assault on protected national forestlands and endangered wildlife,” Russ McSpadden, Southwest conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in an emailed statement. “Ducey is spending his last days in office wasting millions of taxpayer dollars dumping toxic railcars on some of the most beautiful, biodiverse lands in Arizona. We’re hopeful that a judge will quickly stop this heartless, reckless PR stunt.”

The wall violates the Clean Water Act in the Coronado National Forest near its construction. Dr. Robin Silver with the Center for Biological Diversity said suing is necessary because the federal complaint against Ducey’s office does not require the building to stop immediately. Shipping containers are damaging waterways, and essential habitats and crossings for endangered species are at risk.

Demonstrators have said they will not leave their protest site until the containers are removed, even if it means camping in tents in below-freezing temperatures through the upcoming holidays.

NBC News