Several federal government defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit recently filed by Gov. Doug Ducey in his attempt to determine who has jurisdiction over land near the border within the State of Arizona.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Forest Service and its Chief Randy Moore, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its Commissioner Camille Calimlim, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack argued in the motion that Ducey’s actions on U.S. lands “directly conflict” with numerous federal laws.
The motion to dismiss also argues that Arizona’s concurrent jurisdiction to land at the border does not convey a right for Ducey to occupy and use federal lands without federal authority. As a result, the State of Arizona must yield to the United States’ plenary authority over the lands, the motion argues.
Ducey will have an opportunity to respond to the motion to dismiss, after which U.S. District Senior Judge David Campbell will likely hold oral arguments in early 2023.
Also on Wednesday, Campbell granted the Center for Biological Diversity permissive intervention, finding the group has defenses to Ducey’s lawsuit “that share with the main action a common question of law or fact — whether the federal government may act with respect to the border lands of Arizona, including in the enforcement of federal environmental statutes.”
However, Campbell issued a warning to attorneys for the Center that the purpose of granting intervenor status “is not to convert this case into an environmental enforcement action or launch into broad ranging discovery on environmental issues.”
Instead, the purposed is to enable Intervenor to provide input on the claims and issues raised by Ducey. The judge further noted he will hold the Center “to its commitment not to unduly complicate this case, delay the proceedings, inject irrelevant issues, or repeat arguments made by the federal defendants.”
The Center has until Dec. 2 to file an answer in the case.
Ducey filed the six-claim lawsuit in October in an attempt to have the U.S. District Court determine important questions of law regarding jurisdiction over land near the border within the State of Arizona and the state’s own interests in protecting itself in the face of the crisis brought on by countless migrants illegally crossing unsecured areas of the border without action by the federal government.
The inaction of the Biden administration has resulted in “a mix of drug, crime, and humanitarian issues the State has never experienced at such a significant magnitude,” according to Ducey’s lawsuit.
Before filing the lawsuit, Arizona officials pleaded many time with the Biden administration to act, “but such pleas have been either ignored, dismissed, or unreasonably delayed,” the lawsuit notes. “Rather than cooperate and work together with Arizona, the federal government has taken a bureaucratic and adversarial role.”
Ducey responded to this inaction by directing that some gaps in the border wall be temporarily filled with double-stacked storage containers that will help control movement along the border.
The move got the attention of the White House, which now claims Ducey and the State do not have authority to undertake these types of protective actions. The six-claim lawsuit seeks answers to the authority of a governor to issue a state of emergency to protect the lives and welfare of Arizona citizens and their property.
In response to the lawsuit, the Center filed a motion earlier this month seeking to intervene in the case as a defendant along with the named federal defendants.
The Center contends the temporary barriers put into place by the State will block animal migratory paths as well as streams and washes. It also claims the temporary barrier effort will “trash the Sonoran Desert and public lands” while doing nothing “to prevent people or drugs from crossing the border.”
But the Center also alleges Ducey’s border barrier project is “part of a larger strategy of ongoing border militarization” that ignores damage to “human rights, civil liberties, native lands, local businesses, and international relations.”
Ducey opposed the intervention effort by the Center, while the federal defendants took no position on intervention, except that it be a permissive and not by-right status which can be discontinued by the Court if deemed necessary.
Tuesday night, Gov. Doug Ducey was joined by his family in Simi Valley for his featured appearance as part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute’s “A Time For Choosing” speakers series.
The emphasis of the series is to hear from the leading voices in the conservative movement. And Ducey’s social media comments before and after the event show he was honored to be invited to speak.
At the beginning of his speech, the governor described the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as “a monument to not only a great president, but a great man who built the modern conservative movement” and who inspired many, including Ducey.
“Ronald Reagan’s sentiment remains today,” Ducey said. “Most of us can say unflinchingly – while far from perfect – we remain the single greatest country in the history of the world.”
The governor also used his speech to address the importance of federalism.
And he used the appearance at the Ronald Reagan Library to express his concerns with the direction of the Republican Party at the federal level, calling out what he sees as the “dangerous strain of big government activism.”
Ducey also spoke of the many achievements under his eight years in office.
Arizona Public Health Association (AZPHA) director Will Humble claimed on Tuesday that a majority of parents aren’t vaccinating their children for COVID-19 because of inaccessibility. Yet, there are hundreds of vaccination locations that offer the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 12 years.
Humble, also the former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS), explained to KJZZ Phoenix that low vaccination rates were also caused by health care providers having to contend with federal hurdles to obtain the COVID-19 vaccines. On top of that, Humble claimed that parents were dissuaded by the bureaucratic onboarding process associated with child COVID-19 vaccines. Humble didn’t mention concern over the controversies on the vaccine’s side effects or efficacy.
“It’s a hassle for parents to find the shot,” said Humble. “The easier you make it for parents, the better vaccination rates you’ll have.”
“It is a hassle for kids under three because you can’t go to a pharmacy and the public health emergency ended before a vaccine [for them] was even approved,” said Humble.
There are 101 vaccination locations that offer the COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 6 months to 5 years old: 57 in the Phoenix area, 13 in the Tucson area, and the remainder scattered across the state.
There are even more vaccination locations that offer the COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 5 to 12: about 330, with about 200 in the Phoenix area alone, and over 50 in the Tucson area.
Nearly 74 percent of the Arizona population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. Of those under 20 years old, over 720,300 (37 percent) received at least one COVID-19 vaccine.
In June, the CDC recommended that children as young as 6 months old receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Their permission came a month after they approved booster shots for children as young as 5 years old.
As of last Wednesday, total COVID deaths comprised one percent of over 2.2 million reported cases — about 31,100 deaths, which included comorbidities and disproportionately occurred among the elderly. Only 69 deaths (0 percent) occurred in those under the age of 20. 71 percent of all deaths occurred in those aged 65 and older.
AZDHS warned earlier this week that unvaccinated individuals were 47 times more likely to die from COVID-19.
Arizonans will mark the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in a variety of ways Sunday, including by having all state flags lowered to half-staff.
Gov. Doug Ducey issued the order in remembrance of the nearly 3,000 Americans who lost their lives after four hijacked planes were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington DC, and a field in rural Pennsylvania.
“We will always remember September 11, 2001,” Ducey said in a video statement released Friday. “We will remember the lives lost. And we will continue to be inspired by brave and patriotic men and women who answered the call of duty.”
The governor added that time “has helped us heal, but we will never forget” and that reflecting on the events from 21 years ago is “a sobering reminder that our democracy and our way of life must be protected and fought for.”
Earlier this year, the governor signed legislation which requires that Arizona school kids learn about the events of September 11, 2001.
Several Sept. 11 remembrance events will be held Sunday morning across Arizona, including the 9/11 Tower Challenge in Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson. The challenge involves participants climbing 2071 steps in the arena, signifying the 110 floors of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
And on Sunday night there will be a memorial hosted by the Town of Gilbert’s police officers and fire rescue personnel from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the town’s Sept. 11 Memorial Plaza at 50 E. Civic Center Drive.
Foreign trade missions are a tool for key industry and government leaders to develop international business opportunities by meeting face to face. And right now, Gov. Doug Ducey is in Taiwan for one such trip that will include time in the Republic of Korea.
Ducey’s office says his five-day trade mission will “focus on strengthening Arizona’s well-established partnerships with the two Asian partners,” including meetings with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaushieh Joseph Wu, and U.S. Ambassador Philip Seth Goldberg.
“Arizona has excellent relationships with Taiwan and the Republic of Korea,” Ducey said in announcing his arrival in Taipei on Tuesday. “The goal of this trade mission is to take these relationships to the next level – to strengthen them, expand them and ensure they remain mutually beneficial.”
Bilateral trade totaled $1.92 billion between Arizona and Taiwan last year along with $882 million between Arizona and the Republic of Korea, commonly known as South Korea. The governor’s itinerary includes delivering the keynote address to a group of American and Taiwanese business leaders as well as meeting with leaders of high-tech manufacturing companies.
“Arizona enjoys strong economic partnerships rooted in sectors such as technology and manufacturing – specifically within the semiconductor industry,” said Ducey, who is accompanied on the trip by Sandra Watson, who is the President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, as well as Danny Seiden, the President of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Among those involved in the trade mission are officials with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) which plans to train nearly 750 Arizona employees in Taiwan as part of the company’s $12 billion semiconductor facility being built in Arizona. Chip production is expected to begin at the Arizona plant by 2024.
Another itinerary item has the governor celebrating the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the State of Arizona and the Taiwan Ministry of Education. The MOU is signed by the Arizona Board of Regents and its counterpart in Taiwan for the purpose of promoting collaboration in higher education and workforce training, according to Ducey’s office.
The state budget this year included legislation establishing Arizona’s first foreign trade offices in Taiwan and the Republic of Korea. Those offices are expected to launch later this year.
Ducey’s trip to Asia follows a five-day economic mission to Israel in May which focused on increasing trade and investment between Arizona and Israel, as well as addressing drought issues. It was the governor’s second official visit to the country.