The escalating crisis at the United States’ southern land border has prompted Arizona leaders to address immigration, border security, and the intersections of these issues.
2021 is set to break records for attempted southern border crossings, with over 173,000 undocumented migrants encountering U.S. immigration authorities in March alone. The peak of the 2019 border crisis saw 144,116 migrants encountering Customs and Border Control in May of that year.
This surge in illegal crossings has strained law enforcement resources as well as the operations of detention facilities used for migrants awaiting processing. This has led to detention facilities being overcrowded and noncompliant with health regulations instituted to combat the spread of COVID-19. Activists on the left and right see these conditions as unsustainable and dangerous.
Governor Doug Ducey
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has taken an aggressive stance against what he has labeled the “Biden Border Crisis,” deploying 250 National Guardsmen to the southern border to assist immigration authorities. “I have deployed the national guard to provide logistical, field and operational support to law enforcement along the border,” Ducey said, “but there’s more work to be done.”
Criticizing Vice President Kamala Harris, whom President Biden appointed to manage the border crisis, Ducey said, “There has been no action from the Biden administration, and I call on the federal government to do more to resolve this crisis.”
Ducey has made several national media appearances, appealing to the Biden Administration and the public for further support.
Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly
Both Senators Sinema and Kelly endorsed Gov. Ducey’s deployment of Guardsmen to the border.
Writing to President Biden, the pair said, “There is a crisis at the southern border… As such, we request you reimburse the state of Arizona for the deployment the Governor announced yesterday to support border security and continue to increase DHS personnel who can further assist with the processing of migrants, securing the border, and executing important security missions.”
Concerns about humanitarian issues satiate the duo’s call for further federal support for the National Guard deployment, but they are out of lockstep with the Arizona Democratic Party, which has remained largely silent on the issue.
Fox 10 reported that Democratic State Senator Tony Navarette said “I hope this is not a showboat situation,” referring to the Governor’s deployment of National Guardsmen to the southern border.
He went further, cautioning that the move was similar to President Donald Trump’s stance on border security: “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.”
Attorney General Mark Brnovich
As the state’s top lawyer, Attorney General Brnovich has also taken a rigid stance on the crisis. In early April, Brnovich asked Gov. Ducey to declare a state of emergency, activate the National Guard, and support small border towns facing an influx of migrants who have been released by immigration authorities due to overcrowding and lack of resources.
Brnovich also visited the border, like Gov. Ducey, and met with local law enforcement officials.