Court Battles

Facing federal suit, Arizona will remove border shipping containers

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and the state have agreed to remove shipping containers placed along the U.S.-Mexico border after facing a lawsuit from the federal government.

Ducey signed an executive order in August instructing a state agency to close the gaps in Arizona’s southern border wall as officials recorded a record number of migrant encounters, with many crossing the border into Arizona.

The Department of Justice, in suing Ducey last week over his placement of the containers, argued they were illegally constructed on federal lands.

The stipulation, which was signed on Wednesday, commits Arizona to stop any installation of shipping containers on National Forest System lands and remove previously installed containers by Jan. 4 as well as “associated equipment, materials, vehicles, and other objects.”

The state had previously rebuffed demands from the Biden administration, which were made prior to its lawsuit, for Arizona to remove the containers.

The stipulation also includes language confirming that the federal government is moving forward with a plan to engineer a “barrier construction” in the Morelos Dam area, located near Yuma, Arizona.

C.J. Karamargin, Ducey’s communications director, said the shipping container program was always a “temporary, stopgap” measure until the federal government agreed to “get serious” about erecting a permanent barrier.

“We’ve received indications from the federal government that that is happening. Better late than never, but they’re finally stepping up and doing the job that Arizonans and the rest of the country want them to do,” said Karamargin.

The Department of Justice declined to comment further.

Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs (D), who will take office on Jan. 2, has voiced opposition to the shipping container initiative.

Ducey and others in the GOP have sharply criticized the Biden administration’s immigration policies as Arizona and other border states face high levels of migrants crossing the border.

Ducey has bused migrants to Washington, D.C., in protest of those policies, arguing the move provides relief to overwhelmed border communities.

GOP worries over the migrant crisis had grown as a Trump-era immigration policy known as Title 42 appeared headed for expiration.

The policy, which allows officials to quickly expel foreign nationals at the border under the guise of public health protections, had been set to expire Wednesday under a federal judge’s order, but the Supreme Court issued an administrative stay of the expiration as it considers taking up the case.

The Biden administration argued to the high court that it should allow Title 42 to expire, opposing the push by 19 GOP state attorneys general, including Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), to leave Title 42 in place.

The states argue ending the policy would lead to a further surge in migration, while the Biden administration argues that the policy no longer has justification given the state of the pandemic.

–Updated at 11:04 a.m.

Tags Department of Justice Doug Ducey Doug Ducey immigration Joe Biden Katie Hobbs U.S.-Mexico border

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