By CARLY MORAN
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation that, in addition to budgetary spending, will send hundreds of millions of dollars in state funds to hardening the state’s southern border with Mexico.
Sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, House Bill 2317 appropriates a record $564 million budgeted toward securing the southern border.
“Inaction by President Joe Biden has led to the worst border crisis in over 20 years,” said Gov. Ducey. “With this investment, we are giving our law enforcement professionals another critical resource they need to successfully do their jobs. We are standing up for the rule of law, and we are cementing Arizona’s commitment to securing our state and our entire nation.”
HB 2317 promotes a combination of new facilities, law enforcement officers, and spending on updated surveillance technology to help secure the border. Key aspects include $335 million to continue the construction and maintenance of the Trump Administration Border Wall, $53.4 million for deputy sheriff compensation, $80 million for arrest and imprisonment facilities, as well as $10 million to reduce human and drug trafficking.
“The number of migrant encounters has skyrocketed at our border, overwhelming law enforcement and the Border Patrol,” Rep. Kavanagh said. “Thanks to the absent federal government, our border is in chaos and out of control. We need more support and physical barriers. This is a reasonable investment in Arizona’s safety and security. I’m grateful for Governor Ducey’s leadership to take action and secure the border.”
Local law enforcement responded positively to the investment, citing the need for stronger security based on last year’s illegal immigration surge.
“Not only is this a border crisis, it’s a humanitarian crisis – and it’s only getting worse. More and more migrants are making the dangerous journey, fentanyl deaths are spiking and danger continues to escalate.” said Tim Roemer, Director of the Arizona Department of Homeland Security and the state’s Chief Information Security Officer.
“Our nation is facing the worst border crisis in years due to the federal government’s inaction, and our communities are paying the price,” said Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb. “Our state leaders and law enforcement have been taking action, doing all they can to protect Arizona. It is crucial we have the necessary resources along the southern border, and I appreciate Governor Ducey’s efforts to make that happen.”
The bill signing followed through on the governor’s State of the State Address promise that, if Washington, D.C. would not do its part to secure our border, Arizona will.
Similar to Texas, Arizona under Gov. Ducey’s administration has taken several unilateral steps to implement stronger border security. Gov. Ducey in 2021 redirected law enforcement resources and the Arizona National Guard to the border during the illegal crossing surge.