PHOENIX - Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced an emergency declaration on Tuesday, saying he's sending members of the Arizona National Guard to the US-Mexico border "as the nation experiences a rapid increase in apprehensions and migrant children in federal custody."
In an April 20 news release, Ducey says up to $25 million will be allocated for the mission, sending up to 250 National Guard members to help with the following:
- Assist with medical operations in detention centers
- Install and maintaining border cameras
- Monitor and collect data from public safety cameras
- Analyze satellite imagery for current trends in smuggling corridors.
The State of Emergency is active in Cochise, Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Yuma counties.
"The situation in our border communities is just as bad—if not worse—than the coverage we've been seeing," the governor said in the news release, adding, "It's become evidently clear that Arizona needs the National Guard, and the White House is aware of that. Yet, to this day, there has been no action from this administration, and it doesn’t look like they are going to act any time soon. If this administration isn't going to do anything, then we will."
Arizona shares just over 370 miles of borderland with Mexico.
The declaration says illegal immigration sparks concern over cases of COVID-19 entering the state and "increases the overall risk to the State and its citizens." Shelter space for the immigrants is also limited due to social distancing protocols.
The decision has received a lot of support including from notable Democrats, but others say it’s a return to Trump-era tactics.
Democratic State Senator Mark Kelly released a statement on the deployment, saying in part, "There is a crisis on the border and I have pushed the administration for the additional resources, staffing, transportation, and the testing necessary to provide a secure, orderly process that does not fall on Arizona communities."
Senator Kyrsten Sinema, also a Democrat, released a statement saying, "I welcome the Governor's action to provide logistical support to Arizona communities, and look forward to hearing more details about how the National Guard will assist. I will continue working closely with Arizona leaders and organizations to support our border communities, secure the border, prevent the spread of COVID-19, and treat all migrants and unaccompanied children fairly and humanely."
Gila Bend Mayor Chris Riggs says he's glad to see Ducey move forward with the deployment, but wishes it happened sooner.
"We’re seeing a lot of foot traffic, way more than we’ve seen before. We’re seeing more drug trafficking going through here, we’re also seeing an increase in crime," he said.
Democratic Senator Tony Navarrete says of the decision, "I hope this is not a showboat situation," adding that there are more important things to be focused on.
"I just hope this isn’t another Governor Doug Ducey's Trump tactic that at the end of the day are costly, ineffective and really a distraction to the voters for not responding effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic here in the state of Arizona," Navarrete says.
Ducey announced he will travel to Yuma on Wednesday, April 21.
"The Governor and legislative leaders will tour the U.S.-Mexico border, see first-hand the security and humanitarian crisis unfolding there and call out the Biden administration for their failed leadership on this issue. They will be joined by local law enforcement, border community leaders and Arizona Adjutant General and Director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs Brigadier General Kerry L. Muehlenbeck."
Read more on the emergency declaration here.