Here’s why Arizona National Guard sent to border by Gov. Katie Hobbs will be limited

Dec 18, 2023, 10:00 AM

A man with hands on his head is frisked by a uniformed officer in Lukeville, Arizona...

A U.S. Border Patrol agent frisks an migrant at a field processing center near the U.S.-Mexico border on Dec. 8, 2023, in Lukeville, Arizona. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Arizona National Guard members deployed to the border by Gov. Katie Hobbs will be more limited in their authority than if they’d been sent under federal orders, according to a former Border Patrol official.

“I’m glad she’s doing something, but it’s going to be very limited,” Chris Clem, former chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol in Yuma, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Gaydos and Chad Show on Friday.

“They can’t operate a port of entry. They can’t determine immigration and status, so it’s really going be more of a, maybe, a show of force at this point.”

Why did Gov. Katie Hobbs deploy Arizona National Guard to border?

Clem was reacting to Hobbs’ executive order to mobilize the Arizona National Guard as part of her Operation SECURE initiative. The Guard will assist the Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement agencies with enforcement activities near the U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona.

“I haven’t seen all the specificity in the orders given by the governor, but, really, this is state National Guard operating under Title 32, which is going to be very limited in what they can do,” Clem said.

“They don’t have immigration authority, and unless she’s giving them arrest authority or they’re military police, they can’t detain people.”

Hobbs acted Friday after requesting federally mandated Guard support in a letter to President Joe Biden a week earlier.

“Despite continued requests for assistance, the Biden administration has refused to deliver desperately needed resources to Arizona’s border,” Hobbs said in a press release.

Clem said the state National Guard members deployed by Hobbs can serve as “eyes and ears” along the border.

“It may stem some of the flow and relieve some of the pressure, specifically in the Lukeville area, but just historically speaking the guard has been more of surveillance and intel for border security and not been hands-on, other than if they needed to protect themselves in a life or death situation,” he said.

What will it take to reopen Lukeville Port of Entry?

Hobbs also has been urging federal authorities to reopen the Lukeville Port of Entry, which has been closed since Dec. 4. Customs and Border Protection officials reassigned port staffing to help handle a surge in illegal border crossings in the area.

The closure has choked off cross-border travel and commerce in the area and devastated the tourism industry in the Mexican beach town of Puerto Peñasco, aka Rocky Point, a popular destination for Arizona vacationers.

“To get the port open, she’s really going to have to continue to push the administration to send their own CBP resources to actually work the port, because it requires a Customs and Border Protection officer to do those jobs at the port — to admit or deny people, to inspect people. It can’t be somebody else,” Clem said.

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Here’s why Arizona National Guard sent to border by Gov. Katie Hobbs will be limited