Arizona lawmakers made their way back to the capitol this week to debate legislation and craft the state’s annual budget.
Hobbs chose to address border security right off the top—and took a jab at the Biden Administration in the process.
“We cannot go forward without first addressing Washington’s ongoing failure to secure our southern border,” Hobbs said. “A failure decades in the making under both Democratic and Republican administrations.”
The Democratic governor has, with increasing frequency, expressed frustration with the federal government’s ability to process in a timely manner immigrants and refugees who wish to enter the country while providing security for border communities that are impacted by illicit border activity, such as the trafficking of both humans and drugs.
Tensions came to a head in December when the federal government closed the Lukeville Port of Entry so that US Customs and Border Protection could reassign additional agents to Lukeville who could assist in processing migrants. Hobbs called the monthlong closure an “unmitigated crisis” and launched a new division within the Arizona Department of Homeland Security to better coordinate border efforts between state and federal governments.
The new division, called the Border Security Office, was part of Hobbs’ Operation Safety, Enforcement, Coordination, and Uniform Response (SECURE), and will coordinate border efforts between local, state, and federal agencies.
Hobbs designated $2 million from Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act to keep the operation running through 2024, and urged the legislature to reserve funding in the state budget to keep Operation SECURE operational in the coming years.
Republican lawmakers have expressed interest in an increased law enforcement presence at the border—State Sen. President Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, told the Arizona Mirror they’d like to utilize the Arizona National Guard—but have not said whether they plan to provide long-term funding for Operation SECURE.
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