Arizona governor sends National Guard to the border

by Tommy Grant

Editor’s note: This article was first published in the Arizona Mirror.

With the Lukeville Port of Entry heading into its third week of being closed, Gov. Katie Hobbs on Friday signed an executive order giving the state National Guard the go-ahead to assist local law enforcement in monitoring it.

The Democrat, who has sought to distance herself from the White House’s approach on border security, criticized the Biden administration for its inaction. Last week, Hobbs sent a letter urging the federal government to reopen the border crossing and reimburse the state for border enforcement costs.

“Yet again, the federal government is refusing to do its job to secure our border and keep our communities safe,” Hobbs wrote in a statement accompanying the order. “With this Executive Order, I am taking action where the federal government won’t.”

On Dec. 4, U.S. Customs and Border Protection suspended operations at the border crossing in Lukeville to address a spike in migrant encounters, effectively shutting down the most highly traveled border crossing on the way to the Mexican tourist city of Puerto Peñasco, which is also commonly known as Rocky Point. Lukeville, which has a population of only a few dozen people, has become a major migration route, seeing upwards of 2,500 people a day from areas as far away as Senegal, China and India.

The National Guard soldiers deployed by Hobbs’ order will be stationed along the border in multiple areas, including at both the Lukeville and San Miguel border crossings, to help with analytical support and stopping the flow of fentanyl and human smuggling efforts. Approximately 2,500 National Guard members are currently at the southern border with federal active duty orders, and 243 of them are stationed in Tucson, according to Hobbs’ order.

This isn’t the first time national guard troops have been sent to the Mexico-Arizona border; in April of 2022, former Gov. Doug Ducey dispatched them in response to a surge of migrant crossings.

Shortly after CBP’s announcement of its imminent Lukeville Port closure, legislative Republicans called on Hobbs to deploy the Arizona National Guard at the border to alleviate local law enforcement officials. She was initially unwilling to do so, though she didn’t rule out future action. Republicans sounded the alarm on behalf of tourists, who they claimed would be forced to traverse more dangerous paths to make it to their vacation destinations.

But on Friday, Republicans who had previously urged Hobbs to mobilize the National Guard were critical of her executive order.

“This is a band aid that does nothing to open the Lukeville Port of Entry,” Sen. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, said in an emailed statement. “Clearly Joe Biden and his Administration don’t take Katie Hobbs seriously enough to reverse their decision to close Lukeville, or to reimburse the state, or to take any action that will have a meaningful impact on the border crisis.”

In her letter to the White House, Hobbs requested a federal deployment of 243 Arizona Guard members and a $500 million dollar reimbursement for various border- expenses, including a program that helps bus asylum seekers to other states. In announcing the executive order, Hobbs acknowledged that the Biden Administration has not responded to her request for reimbursement, but previously stated that she will continue to bill the federal government for border enforcement costs.

The order from Hobbs follows a closed-door meeting on Friday morning with Alfonso Durazo, the governor of Sonora, Mexico. In a post on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, Hobbs stated they were working on solutions to quickly reopen the port of entry and ensure “security and stability” in the border region.

Gloria Gomez joined the Arizona Mirror in August 2022. She graduated in 2022 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science, with a Spanish minor.



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