US Sues Arizona Over Makeshift Border Wall

Justice Department demands removal of shipping containers, compensation for damages
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2022 4:46 PM CST
Updated Dec 16, 2022 11:46 AM CST
Arizona Governor Builds Wall of Shipping Containers on Border
Activists sit on newly installed shipping containers along the border creating a wall between the US and Mexico in San Rafael Valley, Ariz., on Dec. 8.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
UPDATE Dec 16, 2022 11:46 AM CST

The federal government is suing the state of Arizona over the governor's decision to erect a border wall made of shipping containers. The Justice Department complaint accuses Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and state officials of trespassing on federal lands and asks a court to order the removal of the containers, which it says pose public safety risks, per CNN. The feds also want the state to cover the cost of repairs to damage along the border. Ducey, who argues the real safety risk is an unsecured border, has said the state is willing to remove the containers from the remote San Rafael Valley if the government commits to filling gaps in the permanent border wall as it said it would last December. He requested a timeline Tuesday, per the AP.

Dec 12, 2022 4:46 PM CST

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is spending his final weeks in office trying to complete former President Donald Trump's border wall, though a neighboring sheriff is among the opponents. The barrier consists of old, rusting shipping containers, with razor wire added, the Guardian reports. They're being double stacked along a stretch of more than three miles of the Mexican border, through the Coronado National Forest south of Tucson, and Ducey said he wants to extend the line for another 10 miles, at a projected cost of $95 million. Federal agencies told the state that installing the containers on government land is illegal and ordered a halt, per the AP.

The Republican administration in Arizona responded by saying it won't move the containers unless the Biden administration commits to putting other barriers in their place, per the Hill, and the dispute is now in court. Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has floated using the hundreds of containers for housing for homeless people after she takes office Jan. 2. "There's just no question that this is federal property," a former White House lawyer said. But Dinah Bear considers it unlikely that US Forest Service agents will move against the project unless they have a court order.

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But the sheriff next door said he'll arrest anybody who tries to bring the containers into Santa Cruz County, per Fox News; they're within six miles now. "The federal government has said this [is] illegal activity," Sheriff David Hathaway said. "So just the way if I saw somebody doing an assault or a homicide or a vehicle theft on public land within my county, I would charge that person with a crime." In a statement when the project began over the summer, Ducey said: "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." (More border wall stories.)

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