Under pressure from the Biden administration, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is halting construction of a wall fashioned from shipping containers at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Republican governor reached a settlement with the Department of Justice in which Arizona agreed to stop construction of the border wall on national forest lands, according to court documents filed with the U.S. District Court in Phoenix Thursday.
The agreement stipulates that Arizona will remove all previously installed shipping containers and associated equipment, materials, vehicles and other objects in the U.S. Border Patrol Yuma Sector, without damaging U.S. natural resources. To do so, Arizona will work in conjunction with officials from the U.S. Forest Service and Customs and Border Protection.
The agreement was reached one week after the Biden administration filed a lawsuit against Ducey on behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service.
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It comes two weeks before Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs will assume office. Hobbs has called the shipping container wall a political stunt and a ‘waste of taxpayer dollars.’
Before the lawsuit, Ducey told federal officials that Arizona was ready to help remove the containers. He said they were placed as a temporary barrier. But he wanted the federal government to say when it would fill any remaining gaps in the permanent border wall, as it announced it would a year ago.
Read the latest court filing:
The federal government ‘owes it to Arizonans and all Americans to release a timeline,’ Ducey wrote last week, responding to news of the pending federal lawsuit.
The work placing up to 3,000 containers at a cost of $95 million was about a third complete, but protesters concerned about its impact on the environment held up work in recent days.
Meanwhile, limits on asylum seekers hoping to enter the U.S. had been set to expire Wednesday before conservative-leaning states sought the Supreme Court’s help to keep them in place. The Biden administration has asked the court to lift the Trump-era restrictions, but not before Christmas. It’s not clear when the court might rule on the matter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.