DOJ Files Lawsuit Against Arizona For Building Shipping Container Border Wall


The Department of Justice accused Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and state officials of trespassing on federal lands by building a wall of shipping containers along the state’s border with Mexico, in a lawsuit filed Wednesday, four months after Ducey issued an executive order for its construction.

Key Facts

The lawsuit names Ducey, Maj. Gen. Kerry Muehlenbeck and Arizona Division of Emergency Management Director Allen Clark as defendants.

Arizona has “entered and occupied” lands owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service without required permits or authorization while damaging federal lands, threatening public safety and impeding federal officials from performing official duties, according to the lawsuit.

Officials from both agencies previously notified the state that it is trespassing, though the lawsuit claims Ducey has indicated the state will continue to install additional shipping containers while utilizing construction crews from the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs.

Ducey responded to earlier federal objections to the wall with an October 21 lawsuit against officials from the two agencies and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack claiming the wall was necessary to alleviate “an unprecedented crisis” along the nation’s border with Mexico.

The U.S. is requesting damages in the amount required to remove the containers and declarations by the state that it has violated federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

Ducey’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.

Big Number

$95 million. That’s how much the 3,000-container wall is estimated to cost, according to the Associated Press.

Crucial Quote

“The area where they’re placing the containers is entirely on federal land, on national forest land,” Santa Cruz County Sheriff David Hathway told FOX 10. “It’s not state land, it’s not private land, and the federal government has said this [is] illegal activity.”

What To Watch For

It is unknown whether the shipping containers will be removed before Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs assumes office in January, though Hobbs said the containers could be repurposed as affordable housing opportunities if they remained, according to the Arizona Republic.

Key Background

Ducey’s refusal to remove the shipping container wall is based on his belief that President Joe Biden has not placed enough urgency on border security, according to a release announcing Ducey’s executive order to fill gaps along the state’s southern border with Mexico in August. The wall became a topic prior to the midterm election, in which Hobbs beat Republican Kari Lake, who has defended the wall and added she is willing to defend it to the Supreme Court, according to KTAR. A decision to build the shipping container wall complements decisions calling for more border security by officials in other states, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) busing migrants to Philadelphia and New York City.

Further Reading

Arizona Gov. Ducey Stacks Containers On Border At Term’s End (AP)

Gov. Ducey Builds Border Wall With Shipping Containers Before Leadership Transition (Axios)