Outgoing Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has agreed to dismantle a makeshift border wall, sparking a lawsuit from the federal government and angry environmentalists.
In a deal reached Wednesday with the Biden administration, Ducey said he would stop installing shipping containers on federal land along the U.S.-Mexico border. This is according to court documents filed in the US District Court in Phoenix.
The agreement comes a week after federal officials filed a lawsuit against the Ducey government, saying the border project was illegally built on federal land.
Arizona must remove the containers installed in Coronado National Forest by January 4. Government agencies must contact the U.S. Forest Service to ensure that materials are removed safely and without further damage to natural resources.
“We’re thrilled,” said Robin Silver of the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed a letter of intent earlier this month to sue Ducey’s office over the wall over environmental concerns.
Demonstrators spent weeks in freezing temperatures along the border wall and had vowed to stay there until the containers were removed.
Ducey’s successor, Governor-elect Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said she was against the container project but has not said she will dismantle it when she takes office in January.
C.J. Karamargin, Ducey’s spokesperson, said the project was always intended as a temporary solution until the Biden administration agreed to resume the completion of a wall that began under President Donald Trump.
With just a few weeks left in office, Ducey has redoubled his efforts to secure his state’s border with Mexico, as local officials say she’s seeing an increase in illegal border crossings due to confusion over Title 42, which sets limits on asylum seekers hoping to enter the U.S.
Trump-era politics were supposed to expire this week, but the US Supreme Court ordered a temporary stay on Monday. It is unclear when the court could rule on the matter.
In the meantime, Ducey’s office says it’s working with local and state officials to provide additional resources to places like Yuma County, which extended an emergency declaration Wednesday ahead of the repeal of Title 42. Details are still being worked out, Karamargin said.
Earlier this month, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas authorized US Customs and Border Protection to push ahead with border projects in several regions, including Yuma County in Arizona.
Karamargin said the pledge from federal officials had paved the way for Ducey to agree to remove the shipping containers.
“For more than a year, the federal government has been promoting its efforts to resume the construction of a permanent border barrier,” he said. “After the situation on our border developed into a full-blown crisis, they have finally decided to act. Better late than never.”
Ducey’s office is working with the Biden government to “ensure that they can start building this [new] barrier with the urgency that this issue requires,” Karamargin added.