Why Arizona Is Getting Sued By The US Government

By Charlene Badasie | Published

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The U.S government is suing Arizona over the placement of shipping containers on the border with Mexico. State Governor Doug Ducey began building the barrier in an attempt to stop illegal migrants from entering the country. But according to the lawsuit, the structure is guilty of trespassing on federal land. Thousands of people have been detained while attempting to cross it in recent months.

Filed in U.S District Court in Arizona, the lawsuit says the state, acting on an executive order from Ducey, failed to secure the required permits or authorization. Additionally, the shipping containers damaged federal land, threaten public safety and impede the ability of federal law enforcement to perform their duties. Governor Doug Ducey is also being sued.

The Justice Department sued Arizona on behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Agriculture, and the Forest Service it oversees. Speaking to NPR, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the project is not an effective barrier. “We need serious solutions at our border, with input from local leaders and communities,” he told the publication.

Vilsack added that stacking shipping containers is not a productive solution. Now, the lawsuit wants the court to order the immediate removal of the makeshift structure from the remote San Rafael Valley in southeastern Cochise County. The complaint was also hailed by Democrat Raúl M. Grijalva, who represents southern Arizona. He referred to the project as an “illegal junkyard border wall.”

However, Doug Ducey said Arizona is willing to help remove the containers, which were always meant to be temporary. But he wants the government to say when it plans to continue work on the permanent border wall, a promise which was made a year ago. “The United States owes it to Arizonans and all Americans to release a timeline,” he said in response to the federal complaint.

Border security was a primary focus of Donald Trump‘s presidency and remains important to Republican politicians. “The number one public safety risk and environmental harm has come from inaction by the federal government to secure our border,” Ducey wrote. He added that the 2021 halt on construction of the border wall will result in an increasing number of migrants gaining illegal access to Arizona.

The Arizona Governor also rejected claims that the containers interfere with the duties of federal agencies. He said he was encouraged by the Biden administration’s promise to fill gaps in the wall. But as the months went by the state had no other choice but to address the crisis at its southern border. So they began erecting a temporary barrier instead.

In October, Ducey sued federal officials over their objections to the container wall. According to NPR, the Governor insisted that Arizona holds sole or shared jurisdiction over the 60-foot strip on which the barrier rests. He added that the state has a constitutional right to protect residents from “imminent danger of criminal and humanitarian crises.”

Katie Hobbs, the Arizona Democratic Governor-elect who will take over from Ducey in a few weeks, said the project is nothing but a political stunt. However, she hasn’t decided what to do about the shipping containers after her inauguration on January 5, 2023.