Arizona gubernatorial candidate Salmon wants to build Tent City-like facility near southern border

Feb 2, 2022, 4:25 AM
Undocumented immigrants walk through the Maricopa County "Tent City Jail" to get exercise on April ...
Undocumented immigrants walk through the Maricopa County "Tent City Jail" to get exercise on April 30, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. (File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon wants to build a Tent City-like facility near the southern border in an effort to slow migration numbers.

Salmon told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad on Tuesday that he’d want the facility to be in a port of entry city like Yuma or Douglas, or potentially Tucson.

The Republican said he’d want a new holding space for migrants because he doesn’t believe the federal government is doing enough to limit crossings.

“We can send a message that while Biden has put out a welcome mat for the rest of America, it doesn’t apply to Arizona,” Salmon said. “You come here and you break our laws, we’re going to arrest you.”

The controversial Tent City opened in Phoenix under former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 1993 and was closed by his successor Paul Penzone in 2017.

It was primarily used for low-level offenders and could house up to 2,000 prisoners while costing about $8 million to $9 million each year to run.

The facility drew criticism over its more than two-decade history, including during the summer of 2003 when a heatwave resulted in temperatures inside the tents reaching 145 degrees.

Salmon said the cost for incarceration is a lot less using a Tent City-like facility, adding he put together a team of people in law enforcement to advise him that is headed by former Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead.

“In Arizona, since the federal government is not taking care of its job, they’re not protecting our borders, that we have to step up to the plate,” Salmon said.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited with Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines last week and promised changes during his first appearance at the border in Arizona since taking over the position last year.

Gov. Doug Ducey and other leaders in Arizona have been critical of Mayorkas and the federal government’s response at the southern border, with the Republican governor calling for Mayorkas to resign after he visited the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Arizona gubernatorial candidate Salmon wants to build Tent City-like facility near southern border