PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will take down a makeshift wall made of shipping containers at the Mexico border, settling a lawsuit and political tussle with the U.S. government over trespassing on federal lands.
The Biden administration and the Republican governor entered into an agreement that Arizona will cease installing the containers in any national forest, according to court documents filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.
The agreement also calls for Arizona to remove the containers that were already installed in the remote San Rafael Valley, in southeastern Cochise County, by Jan. 4 without damaging any natural resources. State agencies will have to consult with U.S. Forest Service representatives.
The resolution comes two weeks before Democrat Katie Hobbs, who opposes the construction, takes over as governor.
The federal government filed a lawsuit last week against Ducey’s administration on behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service.
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.
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.