Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and surged the National Guard to the United States-Mexico border as unprecedented numbers of migrants continue to enter the country.
A total of 250 National Guard members is set to head to the border under the direction of Brig. Gen. Kerry Muehlenbeck to “assist with medical operations,” set up cameras, monitor data, and “analyze satellite imagery” for smuggling trends. The governor said his decision resulted from inaction at the White House.
“The situation in our border communities is just as bad — if not worse — than the coverage we’ve been seeing,” Ducey said 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.”
The state will provide $25 million to jump-start the initiative, and the order applies to Cochise, Yuma, Maricopa, Pinal, Pima, and Santa Cruz counties. Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot said the guard members “will provide much-needed support” in the area.
“The crisis at the border is serious and cannot be taken lightly,” he said in a statement. “The Arizona National Guard will provide much-needed support to our officers and safety officials and will help ensure Yuma and other border communities are further protected from dangerous and illegal activity. By deploying National Guard assets, the Governor will allow me to deploy more first responders to mission-critical tasks where we will work side by side with our federal partners to target, apprehend and prosecute transnational criminal organizations.”
Ducey’s action follows a report from Customs and Border Protection that agents witnessed 172,000 attempted illegal crossings in the month of March alone, the highest number in 15 years. The number dwarfed the 100,000 who tried to do the same in February and the 78,000 who attempted to gain entry in January.
President Joe Biden has faced bipartisan backlash for his handling of the crisis as those in top-level positions in his orbit scramble to find alternative housing for a wave of unaccompanied migrant children. The administration has opened well over a dozen new buildings to handle the surge, but facilities across the country still struggle to accommodate the minors amid the pandemic.