Ducey to send Arizona National Guard to border, declares an emergency in multiple counties

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 5:32 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Tuesday, April 20, the state will set aside up to $25 million to deploy National Guard troops to the southern border to help support local law enforcement.

He also declared a state of emergency in Cochise, Pima, Maricopa, Yuma, Pinal and Santa Cruz counties in response to an influx of migrants seeking asylum in Arizona.

The state is set to send up to 250 guardsmen to border communities to help with medical operations at detention centers, install and maintain border cameras, collect data from public safety cameras and analyze trends in known smuggling corridors, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“The situation in our border communities is just as bad — if not worse — than the coverage we’ve been seeing,” the governor wrote in a statement. “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.”

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Arizona) and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero both strongly disagreed with Ducey’s assessment.

“It’s a disgrace that Gov. Ducey continues to militarize our borderlands,” Grijalva said. “We must stop meeting asylum-seeking children and families with guns and troops and instead, direct all resources needed at the border to localities and nongovernmental organizations to adequately assist asylum seekers. This troop deployment is purely political and does nothing to address the issues at hand.”

Romero said the city has been working with local non-governmental organizations to help house and feed asylum seekers.

“It’s disappointing that Governor Ducey is playing politics with the National Guard, wasting Arizona taxpayer dollars in the process,” Romero said. “If Governor Ducey was truly committed to helping, he would be supporting the efforts of local governments and NGOs to provide humanitarian care, which is what we’re focused on through our efforts to house asylum seekers at local hotels. Unfortunately, the Governor is more concerned with raising his national political profile than actually working to solve this issue.

“Deploying troops will do nothing to help alleviate the current situation. Instead, the Governor’s actions only add to the sense of militarization in our Borderlands and stoke unjustified fears about asylum seekers, who are in search of a better life for them and their families.”

Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) were more supportive of the decision.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Kelly said Arizona communities need help during the current crisis.

“In visiting the Yuma Sector and speaking with Border Patrol and other local leaders, it’s clear that their resources and staffing are strained,” Kelly said. “There are important missions that the Arizona National Guard can perform at the border and the governor calling them up will provide assistance to both local law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. I will continue working with the Governor, Border Patrol, and local leaders to secure the resources necessary for a response that prioritizes safety and public health.”

Last month, Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 170,000 people along the southwest border, the release stated, with nearly 19,000 of those unaccompanied minors. The governor’s office stated this is four times higher compared to March 2020.

Ducey is scheduled to visit Yuma Wednesday to learn more about issues surrounding the border there.

Read the governor’s emergency declaration below:

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