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Court rejects Arizona's bid to halt several Biden border policies

A federal court in Arizona has ruled against the state’s bid to stop a series of immigration and border policies enacted by the Biden administration. 

The state brought the suit last April, arguing the Biden administration did not consider the environmental effects of various policies. 

Those include efforts to halt the border wall project and change enforcement priorities for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. The suit also took issue with the administration's pausing of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), the controversial Trump-era policy that forced migrants to await U.S. asylum hearings in Mexico.

The state sought a court order to temporarily halt those changes, arguing they violated in various ways environmental statues like the National Environmental Protection Act, or NEPA. It argued gaps left in the border wall could lead to increased migration through those corridors, which in turn could lead to environmental damage. It also said changing enforcement policies and halting MPP could lead to population growth in Arizona.

In a lengthy order Monday, U.S. District Judge Dominic Lanza denied the state's request on all fronts. He said the state identified 18 miles of gaps in the border wall, but those where only some of many places where no such barrier exists along the Arizona-Mexico. Judge Lanza said the state had failed to explain why completing those 18 miles would do what "190 miles of construction could not," and had failed to acknowledge that migrants "committed to entering the United States have time and again found ways to overcome and bypass walls."

He also said the question of whether MPP should be stopped or continued was moot, since a separate federal court order in Texas had already mandated the administration begin processing asylum seekers through the program again. 

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.