Feds sue Arizona over border wall made of shipping containers

The U.S. government maintains that outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey is building the barrier illegally on federal land.
Shipping containers line the U.S.-Mexico border at the Coronado National Memorial in Cochise County, Ariz., on Saturday.

“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.

DOJ Criminal Complaint filed Wednesday

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

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, called the federal response “welcome news and long overdue.”

“We need immediate action to finally address the illegal and useless container wall on federal and Tribal lands,” he said. “Governor Ducey has wasted $95 million in taxpayer dollars, blocked critical wildlife corridors, and manufactured a dangerous situation with unauthorized armed security personnel along our southern border. Governor Ducey is determined to leave office with a mess and unfortunately, it’s now up to someone else to clean it up.”

Ducey has tested the government over the related matter of illegal immigration as well.

This year Arizona has sent more than 2,000 migrants to Washington, D.C., on dozens of bus trips under a program initiated by Ducey and underwritten by state taxpayers. The trips cost about $82,000 each, according to the state’s contract, resulting in a bill to the state that topped $5 million as of October.

Also Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue Ducey’s office over the wall because of ecological concerns. 

The center says the wall violated the Clean Water Act in the Coronado National Forest, near where its construction is taking place. 

Dr. Robin Silver with the Center for Biological Diversity said the intent to sue is necessary because the federal complaint against Ducey’s office does not go far enough in asking for the construction to immediately stop. Important waterways are being damaged or altered by the placement of shipping containers on land that serves as important habitats and crossings, including for endangered species, he said.

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