Gov. Doug Ducey’s decision to deploy Arizona National Guard troops to the border, at the request of President Trump, is nothing more than an election year political stunt that irresponsibly plays roulette with the economies and reputations of our border communities.
The governor’s nearly instantaneous agreement was made before receiving full information about the potential costs, and without properly outlined procedures and expectations agreed upon through a key interagency process or state collaboration.
When Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama requested National Guard troops to the border, they collaborated with states and federal agencies to develop clear objectives and duties. The cost to deploy troops by President Bush came at a price of over $1 billion. Our border communities were certainly not consulted about this decision.
Border crossings are down to the lowest level since 1971. There is no crisis. Trust me, I live 40 miles from the border and there is nobody in my district telling me we have a crisis. In fact, my district, which shares a border with Mexico in both Pima and Santa Cruz counties, is a wonderful place to live and visit — especially our border towns like Nogales.
President Trump’s actions and mischaracterizations of life on the border make life more difficult for realtors, restaurants, small business owners, tourism and economic development. At a time when we should be revitalizing our border region, this brash and impulsive decision to militarize it could jeopardize our border communities’ economies.
Arizona has worked hard to repair our image after SB 1070, but declaring a “border crisis” sets us back from that progress. We’ve worked hard to show our neighbor to the south, and the rest of the country, that we welcome visitors to our state.
The people who President Trump has demonized are fleeing violence and devastating poverty in their home countries, including children fleeing dangerous street gangs that force them into a murderous lifestyle. They deserve our compassion, not our scorn.
Putting troops on our border runs counter to the very tenets on which our nation was founded. Our beloved Statue of Liberty, which has welcomed the world’s immigrants for over a century, has inscribed, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This move also demonstrates President Trump’s continued dismantling and undermining of our federal agencies, such as our State Department and Department of Homeland Security. We should be dealing with immigrants through additional consular services and allow for proper and efficient processing of asylum cases through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, not the National Guard.
Federal law prohibits military officials, via the Posse Comitatus Act, from carrying out domestic law enforcement, such as apprehending people at the border. Under President Trump’s plan, Arizona’s National Guard troops will assist Border Patrol agents until Congress passes legislation to deal with what the administration says are legal loopholes in immigration enforcement. But with no hope for comprehensive immigration reform coming from Congress, this move would appear to be a near-permanent militarization of Arizona’s border communities under the current administration.
A decision of this significance should have been done through the proper vetting channels at the federal, state and local levels; working collaboratively to ensure that Arizona continues to be a place that welcomes visitors and immigrants and is a safe and happy home to our residents.
Sadly, when President Trump said jump our governor asked how high, prioritizing a play to his base over the well-being of Southern Arizona.