Secretary of Homeland Security and Gov. Hobbs visit southern Arizona border

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:59 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The United States Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced a new push by the federal government to keep dangerous drugs from crossing our southern border.

During a visit to Nogales with Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs on Tuesday, March 21st, Mayorkas announced a new initiative to help the U.S. in the fight against illegal drugs.

The Homeland Security Secretary, Mayorkas, and Governor Hobbs got a firsthand look at the issues many border officials are facing.

The two announced the launch of Operation Blue Lotus, a plan to combat the war on fentanyl across the United States/ Mexico border.

“The drug cartels have grown bigger,” Mayorkas said. “More sophisticated and more treacherous.”

Operation Bue Lotus, which launched last week, has already kept more than 900 pounds of Fentanyl, 700 pounds of meth, and over 100 pounds of cocaine off our streets.

Mayorkas added the ultimate goal of the program, taking down all criminal networks.

“The operation includes an increase of targeted inspection conducted by CBP officers, border patrol, HSI agents, canine units, and advance technology,” Mayorkas said.

However, Mayorkas and Gov. Hobbs agree the work doesn’t stop at the border. The governor said the more than 1700 Arizonans who lost their lives due to an opioid overdose, which includes Fentanyl is far too many.

“Drug supply responds to drug demand,” Hobbs said. “We need to work together to stop the flow of drugs that cross the state, local, tribal, and international borders.”

Secretary Mayorkas also talked about what is being done now to prepare for the end of Title 42, the pandemic-era policy allowing the U.S. to turn away asylum seekers.

“The model is to build safe legal and orderly pathways,” Mayorkas said. “And to deliver a consequence to those who do not avail themselves of the pathways.”

Title 42 is set to end when the U.S. Covid Emergency expires in May. Right now, it’s the policy in place that’s keeping around 2.5 million migrants on the other side of the border.

“My visit to the border and talking with community leaders has just reinforced what we knew that we need partnership to address the many complex issues we are facing as a border state,” Hobbs said.

During her trip to Southern Arizona, Gov. Hobbs also met with officials from Casa Alitas, an organization that helps migrants in Tucson.

Casa Alitas told 13 News in a statement,

“We thank Governor Hobbs for her administration’s willingness to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing migrants who have escaped violence and poverty in their home countries to reunite with U.S. family members.”

Both the Homeland Security Secretary and the Governor agree that we need to work together to tackle the many issues seen on both sides of the border, saying they’ll do whatever it takes to keep Arizona and the U.S. safe.