Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs unveils border security initiative, pushes President Joe Biden to act

Dec 8, 2023, 3:00 PM

Lukeville reopening...

Two immigrants from Ecuador walk past a sign showing the mileage to Why and Gila Bend after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on Dec. 7, 2023, in Lukeville, Arizona. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs on Friday unveiled an initiative to mobilize state resources to address border security issues, and she also pushed President Joe Biden to reopen the Lukeville Port of Entry.

Operation SECURE (Safety, Enforcement, Coordination and Uniform Response), as the initiative is being called, will create a new office within the Arizona Department of Homeland Security to coordinate border security operations.

“With the launch of Operation SECURE, the state of Arizona is doing everything we can to secure the border, but we are at a breaking point,” Hobbs said in a press release. “We need the federal government to step up, do its job and bring security and order to our border.”

The new Border Security Office will be funded for a year with $2 million in federal American Rescue Plan COVID recovery dollars, according to the release.

The office will be responsible for coordinating local, state and federal assets to maintain a secure, humane and orderly border.

How does Operation SECURE address Lukeville border closure?

If the Biden administration doesn’t promptly reopen the Lukeville Port of Entry, Operation SECURE would mobilize up to $5 million so the Arizona National Guard could support the work of the state Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement agencies along the border.

Earlier Friday, Hobbs announced that she planned to visit Lukeville on Saturday along with Maj. Gen. Kerry L. Muehlenbeck, leader of the Arizona National Guard.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials closed the only direct border crossing between metro Phoenix and the popular Mexican beach town of Puerto Peñasco on Monday and redirected the Lukeville staff to help handle a surge in illegal border crossings in the area.

“The decision to close the Lukeville Port of Entry has led to an unmitigated crisis in the area and put Arizona’s safety and commerce at risk,” Hobbs said. “Our ports of entry are vital for security and trade, and insufficient resources hinder our ability to properly manage the influx of migrants who have continued to come to Lukeville.”

What did Arizona governor say in letter to President Joe Biden?

Hobbs also sent Biden a letter Friday proposing a way to reopen the Lukeville border crossing using federal resources. The Democratic governor wants the president to immediately reassign National Guard members currently on active duty in southern Arizona to staff the port of entry.

Hobbs mentioned that 243 National Guard members were currently on active duty in the Tucson Sector, which spans most of Arizona’s border with Mexico.

“With this additional manpower, I am confident you will have the resources necessary to continue trade and tourism through the port while keeping Arizona communities safe,” Hobbs’ letter says.

Hobbs also told Biden she wants Arizona to be reimbursed more than $512 million in expenses incurred by the state because of the federal government’s failure to secure the border.

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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs unveils border security initiative, pushes President Joe Biden to act