PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today made clear that while the White House and Congress turn a blind eye to the crisis at Arizona’s southern border, Arizona will take action and leadership.
In his 2022 State of the State Address, Governor Ducey announced a multifaceted, coordinated effort to stem the flow of illegal drugs and curb human trafficking.
“... if the entire southern border isn’t secure, neither is our nation,” he said.
The Governor outlined a series of bold steps to build on Arizona’s strong record of taking action to protect border communities and national security:
Create the American Governor’s Border Strike Force – a partnership between states to secure the southern border by sharing intelligence, strengthening cybersecurity efforts and improving efforts to protect children and families;
Construct additional infrastructure and physical barriers at the border;
Reinforce the rule of law and broaden penalties for human smuggling;
Strengthen resources and make additional investments in the Arizona Border Strike Force; and
Increase federal resources to the local communities that have been devastated by the Biden administration’s dangerous open-border policies.
American Governors’ Border Strike Force
The American Governors' Border Strike Force creates a partnership between states to share intelligence and resources, strengthen analytical and cybersecurity efforts and improve protection of children and families.
“In November, I dispatched Arizona’s top-ranking enforcement officers to partner with their peers in Texas: Major General Kerry Muehlenbeck. Department of Public Safety Colonel Heston Silbert. And Department of Homeland Security Director Tim Roemer. In December, we finalized the plan: Texas Governor Greg Abbott and I are teaming up to form the American Governor’s Border Strike Force – a commitment between states to do what the Biden administration is unwilling to do: Patrol and secure our border,” the Governor said during his State of the State Address.
In fiscal year 2021, 2,633 pounds of fentanyl and 19,572 pounds of methamphetamine were seized at Arizona’s southern border. Dangerous transnational criminal organizations continue to profit from the border crisis, while continuing to flood our communities with drugs. The American Governors' Border Strike Force aims to combat this criminal activity and stop the flow of drugs and other criminal activity to the entire nation. It will provide significant opportunities to improve collaboration across state lines by:
Improving intelligence sharing and analysis of state level crimes that may be connected to border security;
Monitoring cybersecurity issues that increase vulnerability along the southern border;
Targeting cartel finances that fund criminal activity in the border regions; and
Coordinating and improving interdiction of drugs and human smuggling that occur in the border region and throughout our nation.
In December, Governor Ducey saw firsthand as people walked across a wide-open and unprotected border. Now, Arizona is committing to securing the border with a physical barrier where possible, further protecting Arizona’s communities.
“Our border is a patchwork of federal, state, tribal and private lands,” the Governor said. “Where Arizona can add physical barriers to the border – we will.”
Rule of Law
As the man-made public safety crisis at the border continues to escalate, so does the humanitarian crisis. Vulnerable children and families not only face illness and death on their dangerous journey to the border, but human traffickers that prey on the desperation of people looking for a better life. Governor Ducey expressed it was time to:
Enhance and increase criminal penalties against human smuggling;
Remove barriers for prosecution; and
Provide additional funding to ensure prosecution and incarceration.
“The human traffickers that prey on the desperation of people looking for a better life, need to pay the consequences,” the Governor said. “It’s time for us to increase the criminal penalties against human smuggling, and provide more funding to border counties to ensure prosecution and incarceration.”
Strengthen the Arizona Border Strike Force
The fiscal year 2022 executive budget will make significant investments to strengthen the Arizona Border Strike Force. The budget will equip the Border Strike Force with:
Advanced equipment to aid in the pursuit of dangerous criminals;
Next-generation drone technology to bolster surveillance; and
Funding to investigate transnational criminal organizations operating in Arizona.
On March 19, 2021, Governor Ducey traveled to Douglas, Arizona to get a first-hand view of the security and humanitarian situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. After taking an aerial border tour, the Governor received a briefing and held a press conference and a border security roundtable.
On April 20, 2021, Governor Ducey issued a Declaration of Emergency and deployed the Arizona National Guard to the southern border to support local law enforcement efforts as the nation experiences a rapid increase in apprehensions and migrant children in federal custody.
The day after issuing the Declaration of Emergency, Governor Ducey toured Arizona’s border in Yuma and received a briefing on the escalating humanitarian and security crisis from Border Patrol, local law enforcement and community leaders.
On May 11, 2021, Governor Ducey joined 19 fellow governors to call on President Biden and Vice President Harris to reverse their destructive border policies.
On June 10, 2021, In June, Governor Ducey and Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to all U.S. governors asking them to send available law enforcement resources to the border.
On June 30, 2021, the Arizona Legislature passed and Governor Ducey signed the FY 2022 budget, which included $25 million in state funding for the National Guard border mission and $30 million to assist law enforcement with border security operations, in addition to existing funding for the Border Strike Force.
In July, Governor Ducey successfully lobbied the Biden administration to continue Title 42 border protections and called on Congress to protect Title 42 from future Biden interference.
On August 13, 2021, Governor Ducey called for the resignation of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas following explosive leaked comments in which Mayorkas called the border crisis “unsustainable,” said “these numbers cannot continue” and said “if our borders are the first line of defense, we're going to lose.”
On August 18, 2021, Governor Ducey announced a one-year extension of the Arizona National Guard’s border security mission.
On September 20, 2021, Governor Ducey and 25 fellow governors requested an urgent meeting with President Biden to find meaningful solutions to the border crisis. Their hope was to meet with the president and his team directly to discuss actions the administration can take. Secretary Mayorkas responded two months later on November 24, but has not taken meaningful actions.
On October 6, 2021 Governor Ducey joined Texas Governor Greg Abbott and eight other governors in Mission, Texas, for a border security briefing and press conference, where they detailed a ten-point plan for the Biden administration to resolve the border crisis.
On November 30, 2021, Governor Ducey sent a team of the state’s top law enforcement officers to meet with their counterparts in Texas to discuss the current border crisis, share best practices, and discuss future partnerships, including the American Governors’ Strike Force. The delegation included Major General Kerry Muehlenbeck, Department of Public Safety Director Heston Silbert and Department of Homeland Security Director Tim Roemer.
On December 7, 2021, following unanswered calls to the Biden administration for a plan to resolve the border crisis and increase federal assistance, Governor Ducey again took action when the federal government failed to, surging public safety resources to the Yuma Sector of the Southern Border.
That same week, Arizona Department of Public Safety Troopers seized dangerous drugs, with an estimated value of more than $5.1 million, that were being transported from southern Arizona toward the Phoenix area.
On January, 6, 2022, Governor Ducey announced a $7.5 million investment to expand the Arizona Western College Law Enforcement Training Academy in Yuma, supporting those who are dedicated to protecting Arizona.