Arizona Leaders Disappointed at Ducey’s Plan with 25 Governors to Secure the Border

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and 25 other governors launched the American Governors’ Border Strike Force on Tuesday to combat the expected surge in migrants and crime on the border when the Biden administration lifts the Title 42 restrictions in May. A statement from Ducey described it as “a partnership to do what the federal government won’t: secure the southern border,” but some Arizona leaders are disappointed, believing it doesn’t go far enough.

Leading gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake expressed her skepticism of Ducey’s plan during an interview on The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, saying he’s only taken “little pieces” from her border security plan. “We already have an invasion at our border … It’s going to get worse … the floodgates are open,” she said. “The question is, do we have the elected officials who are willing to do the tough work? And that means finishing that wall on the border. The materials are right there. The federal government abandoned them at the border and we need to take those materials back and finish the wall and get troops on the border.”

She went on, “And I’m talking about our Arizona National Guard. My plan calls for arming them and putting them at the border and literally stopping people from coming across. I believe I have the toughest border plan in the entire country. I’ve offered it to our current governor Doug Ducey on January 4 before I released it. … Just now, he’s starting to pull little pieces from it out.”

Lake issued her own border plan in January. It would establish an interstate compact of like-minded states and declare an invasion so states would have the authority to defend their borders. She wants the plan implemented as soon as possible, even during Ducey’s remaining year, but he has not done so.

State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) asked Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich whether the situation on the border constitutes an invasion, which would authorize states to take action defending themselves under the U.S. Constitution. Brnovich responded with a legal opinion which found that it is, but he said it is up to the governor to declare it.

Ducey said the American Governors’ Border Strike Force (AGBSF) was modeled after the Arizona Border Strike Force. He discussed how the latter successfully seized large numbers of illegal drugs. However, he did not mention any other accomplishments. The AGBSF doesn’t appear to expand that; it will also primarily focus on intercepting drug shipments.

Ducey said he announced his plans to form the AGBSF during his January State of the State address – but after his speech, Ken Cuccinelli (who was deputy secretary of Homeland Security under former President Donald Trump and former attorney general of Virginia), Hoffman, and other state lawmakers called for Ducey to declare an invasion and fix the border.

State Rep. Teresa Martinez (R-Maricopa) expressed her concern to The Arizona Sun Times that the AGBSF might not go far enough. “The state legislature voted for 150 million dollars to spend to finish building the wall on state land and I would like to see that come to fruition.”

State Rep Tim Dunn (R-Yuma) told The Sun Times that Ducey’s plan was a “good start,” but there needs to be funding provided for it. He’s especially concerned that the counties don’t have enough money to deal with prosecuting an influx of criminal migrants and jailing them. “If mules think there’s a chance of going to jail, it’s not so fun anymore.” He said Cochise County started arresting going after drug smugglers, but now “they’re out of jail space.”

Dunn and State Rep. Joanne Osborne (R-Yuma) sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday urging him to reconsider dropping the Title 42 restrictions on the border. They criticized the Biden administration for slow walking the Remain in Mexico policy even though the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld it, and demanded more Border Patrol troops in Arizona.

Lake’s border plan includes setting up a dedicated border security force with authority to “arrest, detain, and return illegal immigrants back across the border,” and invalidate “federal restrictions and regulations on border enforcement administered by agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Land Management.” The Arizona National Guard would destroy smuggler and cartel tunnels and shoot down unauthorized drones, and building the wall would continue. Her plan has been endorsed by National Border Patrol President Brandon Judd.

Unlike Texas, most of Arizona’s border is off-limits to local law enforcement. It is either owned by tribal governments or private individuals who refuse to provide access. The National Guard is not allowed to intrude there, nor is the National Guard allowed currently to arrest or deport migrants, they can merely engage in humanitarian activities. Without declaring an invasion, local and state authorities are very limited in what they can do.

Lake said police chases have gone up 300 to 400 percent in Cochise County since Biden took office. We need to start treating this for what it is, a war on America. Regarding the drugs like fentanyl coming in, she said “[t]hese aren’t overdoses, these are poisonings.” Last year, officials arrested a record 1.9 million people crossing the border. Since the Biden administration took office, migrant encounters in the Yuma sector increased 2,405 percent.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Doug Ducey” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.



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