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The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey over the construction of an improvised border wall made of shipping containers. 

The Biden administration argued in the lawsuit filed in US District Court for the District of Arizona that construction crews building the makeshift wall are trespassing on federal land.

The filing asks for “immediate injunctive relief prohibiting” the outgoing Republican governor from continuing work on the barrier, which officials say is being carried out without the proper permits or authority. 

“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 DOJ’s filing reads.

The lawsuit comes after Ducey issued an executive order in August commanding Arizona’s Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to erect the structure, topped with razor wire, to fill gaps in the existing wall between Mexico and Yuma County. 

The Arizona governor was prompted to order the shipping container wall’s construction in response to a record number of migrant encounters happening along the border in 2022. 

A long row of double-stacked shipping containers provides a new wall between the United States and Mexico in the remote area of San Rafael Valley, Arizona on Dec. 8, 2022.
The Biden administration argues construction crews building the makeshift wall are trespassing on federal land.
AP

Ducey’s office notified the DOJ on Tuesday that his state “stands ready to cooperate with the federal government on construction of a border wall and always has been,” and indicated that work on the barrier has been paused, according to NBC News

“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,” C.J. Karamargin, Ducey’s spokesman, told the news outlet. 

In October, Ducey sued the heads of the US Forest Service, the Department of Agriculture, and the Bureau of Reclamation for permission to keep the shipping container project going.  

A long row of double-stacked shipping containers provides a new wall between the United States and Mexico in the remote area of San Rafael Valley, Arizona on Dec. 8, 2022.
A record number of migrant encounters along the border this year prompted the wall’s construction.
AP

“Arizona is taking action to protest on behalf of our citizens,” Ducey said in a press release in October. “With this lawsuit, we’re pushing back against efforts by federal bureaucrats to reverse the progress we’ve made. The safety and security of Arizona and its citizens must not be ignored. Arizona is going to do the job that Joe Biden refuses to do — secure the border in any way we can.”

The Biden administration had warned Ducey that containers were within the vicinity of the Morelos Dam and on land that is part of the Cocopah Indian Tribe’s West Reservation.

It also claimed that the barriers interfere with a Customs and Border Protection project to fill the holes in the existing wall.

Gov. Doug Ducey answers a question during a news conference in Phoenix on Dec. 2, 2020.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order for the makeshift wall in August.
AP

Environmentalists have also protested against the construction of the wall, claiming that waterways and important habitats for endangered species are being damaged.

Incoming Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) has vowed to stop work on the wall when she takes office in January, calling its construction a “political stunt” that isn’t working. 

“It’s not land that’s our land to put things on. That’s one problem. The containers aren’t working. There’s many pictures of people climbing over them,” Hobbs said earlier this week.

“It’s a political stunt. It’s a visual barrier that is not actually providing an effective barrier to entry, and I think a waste of taxpayer dollars,” she added.

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