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Arizona's governor is sending the National Guard to the border

A group of migrants gather along the border after breaking through gaps in the border wall Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Lukeville, Ariz.
Ross D. Franklin
A group of migrants gather along the border after breaking through gaps in the border wall Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Lukeville, Ariz.

Arizona's governor on Friday ordered the state's National Guard to the border with Mexico to help federal officials manage an influx of migrants.

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs said she issued the executive order because "the federal government is refusing to do its job to secure our border and keep our communities safe."

"I am taking action where the federal government won't," Hobbs said.

It was unclear when the troops would arrive at the border and exactly how many would be mobilized.

Hobbs asked President Joe Biden's administration a week ago to mobilize 243 Arizona National Guard troops already in the Border Patrol's Tucson sector that includes Lukeville, Arizona, to help federal officers reopen the border crossing that was indefinitely closed Dec. 4.

Customs and Border Protection has said shutting down the official crossing was necessary to allow personnel stationed there to help Border Patrol agents manage the hundreds of migrants illegally crossing in that area daily.

Although remote, the crossing is a popular route for Arizonans traveling to the Mexican resort of Puerto Peñasco, or Rocky Point, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) south of the border on the northern shores of the Sea of Cortez.

Hobbs said the National Guard members will be stationed at multiple locations along the southern border, including around Lukeville.

There, they will support state and local agencies engaged in law enforcement, including interdiction of illegal drugs and human trafficking.

The San Miguel crossing located farther east on the Tohono O'odham Nation is also seeing hundreds of migrant arrivals daily, but tribal officials said the National Guard would not be stationed on the reservation.

"We are in close communication with Governor Hobbs on this issue," said Verlon Jose, chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation. "We made clear that no National Guard would be deployed to the Nation and her office has agreed. Today's action by the Governor is a necessary step in addressing the current crisis at the border."

Hobbs said the Biden administration had not responded to her request that the U.S. government reimburse Arizona for border security spending.

Customs and Border Protection officials said they did not have an immediate response to the governor's decision.

The Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, National Guard confirmed Friday afternoon it was activating members.

Major Gen. Kerry L. Muehlenbeck, who oversees the Arizona National Guard, noted that in September it wrapped up a 30-month active-duty mission providing support to law enforcement agencies in southern Arizona.

Muehlenbeck said the earlier mission provided logistics, administrative, cyber, and medical support.

U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, who represents southern Arizona, said he disagreed with Hobbs' executive order.

"But I do appreciate that Governor Hobbs has rejected the brutal and cruel tactics of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott who have taken advantage of this crisis to inhumanely and illegally use migrants as political pawns and to politicize and pander instead of working on real solutions," Grijalva said in a statement.

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The Associated Press
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