Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has agreed to deconstruct the makeshift border wall his administration has been building out of shipping containers for several months.
Court records show the governor and federal officials reached an agreement to “remove all previously installed shipping containers and associated equipment, materials, vehicles, and other objects from the United States’ properties in the U.S. Border Patrol Yuma Sector, including from lands over which the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation holds an easement on the Cocopah Indian Tribe’s West Reservation.”
Last week, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Ducey, accusing him of illegally placing the containers on federal land.
“Not only has Arizona refused to halt its trespasses and remove the shipping containers from federal lands, but it has indicated that it will continue to trespass on federal lands and install additional shipping containers,” the DOJ said in a filing.
Since August, Ducey has spent $82 million in his efforts to fill gaps in the border barrier with containers. To date, he has covered approximately 1,800 feet – or 182 containers – in the Yuma, Arizona, region and about 3.5 miles in Cochise County with 982 containers, a spokesperson for the governor said.
Ducey, a Republican, agreed to remove the containers by Jan. 4, the court records show. Incoming Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who said she opposes the container project but has stopped short of saying she would dismantle it, will be sworn in on Jan. 5.
C.J. Karamargin, Ducey’s spokesman, said the project was always intended to be a temporary solution until the Biden administration agreed to resume the completion of a wall started under President Donald Trump.
With just a few weeks left in office, Ducey has doubled down on securing his state’s border with Mexico as local officials say they are seeking an uptick in illegal crossings due to confusion over Title 42, which set limits on asylum-seekers hoping to enter the U.S.
In an October letter obtained by ABC News, Coronado National Forest Supervisor Kerwin Dewberry had warned Ducey that he was placing containers on National Forest System (NFS) lands.
“The Forest Service did not authorize this occupancy and use,” Dewberry wrote then, urging Ducey to obtain a permit before continuing the work.
Court records show Arizona officials will now be having a discussion with the U.S. Forest Service “within one week” about safely removing containers and equipment from NFS land to “avoid and minimize damage to the United States’ lands, properties, and natural resources or disruption to federal actions or activities within the Colorado National Forest.”
Final details are still being worked out on how much a new project will cost and when work will begin. The shipping container project cost Arizona at least $82 million, Karamargin said.