Arizona Gov. Ducey files lawsuit over shipping containers at border wall

Governor Doug Ducey has filed a lawsuit after the federal government ordered Arizona to take down double-stacked shipping containers that are filling gaps along the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

On Friday, Ducey said in a news release that "the lack of planning and action from the Biden administration demonstrates that border states like Arizona cannot rely on the federal government to ensure its security."

"Our border communities are overwhelmed by illegal activity as a result of the Biden administration’s failure to secure the southern border," Ducey said. "Arizona is taking action to protest on behalf of our citizens. 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. We’re not backing down."

MORE: Arizona refuses U.S. demand to remove containers along border

Ducey ordered the installation of more than 100 double-stacked containers that were placed along the wall near Yuma over the summer, saying he couldn’t wait for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to award the contracts it had announced for work to fill the gaps in the border wall in the border area.

The Bureau of Reclamation sent a letter last week, calling for the existing containers to be removed and no new ones placed. The letter said the bureau wanted to prevent conflicts with two federal contracts already awarded and two more pending to fill two border wall gaps near the Morelos Dam in the Yuma area.

"The unauthorized placement of those containers constitutes a violation of federal law and is a trespass against the United States," the letter states. "That trespass is harming federal lands and resources and impeding Reclamation’s ability to perform its mission."

The Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs wrote a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, saying "the containers will remain in place until specific details regarding construction are provided." It was signed by Allen Clark, the department’s director.

Tribal officials weigh in

Meanwhile, the Cocopah Tribe is also requesting the state to remove the shipping containers that have been placed on some of the gaps in the Yuma area. Tribal officials added that they will continue to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement in efforts to secure the border. They say they have worked alongside the Border Patrol for the past 20 years.

"We approved the installation of cameras border patrol uses, the ground sensors, and the construction of the normandy style barrier," said one tribal official.

Migrants have continued to avoid the recently erected barriers by going around them, including through the Cocopah Indian Reservation. The Cocopah Indian Tribe has complained that Arizona acted against its wishes by placing 42 of the double stacks on its land.

Border Wall remains big issue for Republicans

The border wall promoted by former President Donald Trump continues to be a potent issue for Republican politicians hoping to show their support for border security.

President Joe Biden halted wall construction his first day in office, leaving billions of dollars of work unfinished but still under contract. The Biden administration has made a few exceptions for small projects at areas deemed unsafe for people to cross, including the gaps near Yuma.

The Center for Biological Diversity raised a different objection to the shipping containers, filing a notice of intent to sue Ducey’s administration over what the environmental group said are plans to erect more shipping containers along the border. The group said the move will obstruct a critical jaguar and ocelot migration corridor.

Ducey putting up more shipping containers; residents weigh in

On Oct. 24, Gov. Ducey added more stacked shipping containers in Cochise County.

The shipping containers are being added to a 10-mile gap west of Sierra Vista, and more than 2,700 shipping containers are needed to cover the rugged terrain.

As the back-and-forth between Ducey and federal officials continue, people living near the border are talking about the issue of border wall and border security.

"We have the new wall, except for a couple of those places that it hasn’t been completed, and they certainly can’t put them over the river, but there’s lots of places down here, it’s just four strands of barbed wire and nothing else," said retired rancher Joe Scelso.

Scelso said he lives 2.5 miles from the U.S.-Mexico Border for the past 28 years. The Rockin' JP Ranch in Palamines was a dream come true, quiet and safe, but things turned south over the years.

"I mean, I can’t go anyplace on my property without being armed because I don’t know who is going to jump out of nowhere, and whether it’s going to be somebody carrying drugs that’s armed," said Scelso.

Scelso weighed in on Ducey's actions.

"Well, anything will be helpful," said Scelso. "It’s not the perfect solution, but it makes it pretty tall."

"We have booked over 1,000 people in our County Jail for border-related crimes," said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. "The stats, they are facts in themselves, and this is what it's all about."

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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Shipping container border barrier in Yuma

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