The lawsuit alleges that Arizona has not only usurped the federal government’s jurisdiction over border policy but actively prevented civil servants from continuing routine work along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The United States Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Arizona for constructing a temporary border wall made out of shipping containers.
According to CNN, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, issued an executive order in August instructing the state’s Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to use shipping containers to fill in so-called “gaps” along the Arizona-Mexico border.
However, the Department of Justice claims that Gov. Ducey began construction of the temporary border wall without seeking approval or permits from the federal government, which has broad jurisdiction over the United States’ international borders.
“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 states.
Now, the federal government is asking the court to compel Arizona to remove the shipping containers and “compensate the United States for any actions it needs to take to undo Arizona’s actions.”
The lawsuit, notes CNN, names Gov. Ducey and two Department of Emergency and Military Affairs officials as defendants.
“Not only has Arizona refused to halt its trespasses and remove the shipping containers from federal lands, but it has indicated that it will continue to trespass on federal lands and install additional shipping containers,” the lawsuit alleges.
The Justice Department specifically alleges that Arizona’s actions have impacted protected environments and impeded the movement of federal officials.
For example, the complaint details how the shipping containers have “substantially curtailed” the U.S. Force Service’s ability to access border areas; it also observes that, while constructing its temporary barrier, Arizona “cut down or removed scores of trees, clogged drainages, and degraded the habitat of species listed under the Endangered Species Act.”
Gov. Ducey’s office has since responded to the government’s allegations, stating that the Justice Department has made a “series of unfounded and inaccurate claims” about the state’s border constructions.
“From our perspective, the containers were always intended to be a temporary solution to an ongoing problem, and that’s the problem of an unsecure border,” a spokesperson for Ducey’s office said.
“The number one public safety risk and environmental harm has come from inaction by the federal government to secure our border,” Gov. Ducey’s office wrote in a politically-charged letter.
“Arizona stands ready to cooperate with the federal government on construction of a border wall and always has been,” the governor’s office added.