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While in Yuma, Ducey urges Biden to use ‘vast powers’ to help at border

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks during a press conference at the border in Yuma on April 21, 2021. (KTAR News Photo/Peter Samore)

During a visit to southern Arizona on Wednesday, Gov. Doug Ducey implored President Joe Biden to unleash the federal government’s “vast powers” to address the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

A day earlier, Ducey declared a state of emergency in six counties to deal with the impact of a surge in border crossings, and he deployed the Arizona National Guard to support law enforcement efforts.

During a press conference in Yuma on Wednesday, Ducey urged the Democratic president to take similar actions.

“If you want to stop the disaster that’s unfolding here and will only get worse in the coming months, President Biden, you should declare a national emergency and deploy the vast powers of your administration to stop what’s happening here,” the Republican governor said after a briefing with Border Patrol and law enforcement officers.

Ducey noted that neither Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris or Department of Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas have visited any of Arizona’s border towns.

“Our Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed. Citizens here in Yuma are concerned for their safety. And nonprofits left to pick up the pieces of broken federal policies are strained,” he said.

“And yet, we still have not received any signs of action from the federal government.”

Ducey’s emergency declaration covered Cochise, Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Yuma counties.

He said the state will initially provide up to $25 million for the Arizona National Guard’s mission, which will start with 250 members providing logistical, field and operational support to lighten the load on local law enforcement agencies.

“We’re willing to pay for this out of our own budget even though this is a federal responsibility and the cost should be fully paid by the federal government,” Ducey said.

In that regard, Ducey has the support of Arizona’s two U.S. senators, both members of the president’s party.

Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly lauded Ducey’s moves Tuesday and sent a letter to Biden on Wednesday asking him to cover the state’s costs and get more federal resources involved.

“We know the National Guard can provide important assistance on the border and note that there are approximately 500 guardsmen already deployed to the Yuma and Tucson sectors,” the letter said, in part. “As such, we request you reimburse the state of Arizona for the deployment the governor announced yesterday to support border security and continue to increase DHS personnel who can further assist with the processing of migrants, securing the border, and executing important security missions.

“We stand ready to work with you to support our border communities, secure the border, prevent the spread of COVID-19, and treat all migrants and unaccompanied children fairy and humanely.”

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