(Headline USA) Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Tuesday he is sending 250 National Guard troops to the state’s southern border with Mexico amid the increased arrival of illegal immigrants.
“If this administration isn’t going to do anything, then we will,” Ducey said.
The southern border has seen a surge in illegal immigration in recent months. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports they encountered 172,000 immigrants crossing the border in March, up from 101,000 in the previous month.
The governor’s announcement came the day CBP held an open house at a new tent-like migrant processing center in the border community of Yuma. It is the first of two planned in Arizona to help agents process and temporarily shelter a growing number of asylum seekers arriving at the border. A similar structure is opening later this month in Tucson.
There was no immediate response from Customs and Border Protection officials.
The governor’s office said $25 million will initially be set aside to help local and state law enforcement officers such as state troopers.
Guard members could help with medical operations at detention centers, install and maintain border cameras, collect data from public safety cameras and analyze satellite imagery for current smuggling trends, the announcement said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who also is a Republican, last month deployed about 500 members of his state’s National Guard to the border in Texas, which is seeing the largest share of current arrivals
Ducey said in his announcement he will travel Wednesday to Yuma to meet with local officials and law enforcement agencies.
Officials in small Arizona border towns including Yuma, Ajo and Gila Bend have called on the federal government to help them manage small groups of asylum seekers being suddenly released in their communities by CBP officials who say they don’t have capacity to hold them. The towns don’t have the resources to transport the migrants to larger cities where they can get temporary shelter and logistical help reuniting with relatives elsewhere in the U.S.
An earlier statement from Customs and Border Protection said the Yuma and Tucson shelters will be similar to a soft-sided, 90,000-square-foot (about 8,360-square-meter) processing center for migrants that recently opened in Eagle Pass, Texas. One like it was temporarily erected in Yuma in 2019, when a large number of migrant arrived during the Trump administration.
The soft-sided processing centers are separate from shelters that Health and Human Services operates for unaccompanied children, who are housed separately from other migrants after processing.
CBP is turning away most adult migrants attempting to enter the U.S. under a public health order issued at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Biden administration is allowing unaccompanied minors and some families to remain, at least temporarily, while authorities determine whether they can stay through the asylum process or under another legal category.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.