Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey plans to spend his final year in office shoring up the state’s border with Mexico.
The Republican governor took the podium in the joint session of the state Legislature on Monday, saying that securing the nation’s border with Mexico needs to be a top priority nationally.
“Our border is a patchwork of federal, state, tribal, and private lands. Where Arizona can add physical barriers to the border, we will,” he said, adding that “if the entire southern border isn’t secure, neither is our nation.”
Ducey announced an agreement with Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott to form the “American Governor’s Border Strike Force,” which he said would “do what the Biden administration is unwilling to do: Patrol and secure our border.”
He said the agreement would increase information sharing and stronger cybersecurity between the states.
Ducey’s proposed budget would also include more funding for technology and increased personnel at the border.
He called on Arizona’s two Democratic U.S. Senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, to abstain from voting on any legislation until President Joe Biden addresses the nation’s southern border crisis.
“In Arizona, we will secure our border. We will protect public safety. We will not back down. We will fight this fight until Washington D.C. finally acts,” he said Monday.
His office drafted sample legislation that would treat any border crossing, even those seeking asylum, that doesn’t go through the proper channels as grounds for deportation.
The “Secure the Southern Border Act” amends current immigration law so that it “ensures a physical barrier along our southern border, requires asylum seekers who have traveled through another country to have sought or attempted to obtain asylum in the other country, requires asylum seekers to claim asylum only at a port of entry, and increases the number of immigration judges to process cases.”
The bill also distributes more funding for local law enforcement and humanitarian efforts in addition to requiring federal officials to advise other countries that “our country’s borders are not open and immigration except through a port of entry and the legal immigration system will not be tolerated.”
In the 2021 fiscal year, the governor’s office said law enforcement seized 2,633 pounds of fentanyl and 19,572 pounds of methamphetamine at Arizona’s southern border.
Ducey plans to submit his budget for legislative consideration on Friday.