Arizona AG seeks injunction to reverse Biden administration’s ending of border wall construction

Arizona's attorney general on Monday announced that his office is seeking a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s efforts to end border wall construction and the Trump-era Remain-in-Mexico policy – claiming the moves violate environmental law.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office first sued the Department of Homeland Security in April, alleging the administration has not complied with its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it ended border wall construction and the Remain-in-Mexico policy – which kept migrants in Mexico until their hearings were processed.

Biden signed an order ending border wall construction on his first day in office, having campaigned on the issue. His administration also ended the Remain-in-Mexico policy, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), amid claims that it was cruel and forced migrants into dangerous situations. Republicans have blamed the moves for fueling the crisis at the southern border.

NEPA generally requires federal agencies to weigh the potential environmental consequences of policies prior to their implementation. The suit requested the U.S. District Court in Arizona void the border wall pause and reinstate Remain-in-Mexico until the government carries out a review of the environmental damage.

The AG’s office cites estimates that each migrant crossing the border leaves up to 8 pounds of trash and that the state’s Department of Environmental Quality found that includes human waste, medical products, vehicles and plastic containers.

The new effort Monday includes a request for a preliminary injunction as well as an amended complaint. The injunction would require the administration to analyze the environmental impacts, rescind the cancellation of wall contracts and reinstate Remain-in-Mexico. 

The new complaint alleges the sudden termination of the policies were arbitrary and capricious and that the administration failed to prepare an environmental impact statement despite the potential impacts of the policies it says encourages immigration across the border.

"There is no doubt that the Biden Administration’s immigration policies are causing a humanitarian, public safety, and environmental crisis at our border," Brnovich said in a statement. "I will do everything I can to stop their destructive actions and protect Arizona."

The suit alleges the combined policies led to an unprecedented number of migrants crossing the border – with official statistics showing there were more than 180,000 migrant encounters in May alone.

The lawsuit is one of a number of efforts by Republican states to push back against the Biden administration’s immigration policies. Texas successfully sued the administration to end a planned 100-day deportation moratorium, while Arizona and Montana have sought to end restrictive Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regulations.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, meanwhile, recently announced that his state will pursue its own plans for a wall at the southern border. On Saturday, he accused the Biden administration of a "complete abandonment" of U.S. immigration law.

Fox News' Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.

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