Arizona Gov. Hobbs will send National Guard to border if Lukeville Port of Entry remains closed

By Wayne Schutsky
Published: Friday, December 8, 2023 - 3:56pm
Updated: Friday, December 8, 2023 - 6:52pm

The Lukeville Port of Entry between Lukeville, Arizona, and Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico
Getty Images
The Lukeville Port of Entry between Lukeville, Arizona, and Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico

Gov. Katie Hobbs plans to send National Guard troops to the Arizona-Mexico border if the Biden Administration does not reopen the Lukeville Port of Entry soon.

Hobbs on Friday announced the creation of a new Border Security Office within the state Department of Homeland Security, and said it will spend up to $5 million to send National Guard troops to the border to support the Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement agencies if the port is not reopened.

“And I’ll again share my continued frustration at this situation and their lack of response that’s costing the State of Arizona taxpayers,” Hobbs said. “And our capacity is at its limit right now.”

Hobbs is scheduled to travel to Lukeville on Saturday with Adjutant General Kerry Muehlenbeck, who oversees Arizona’s National Guard, to determine how best to support those on the ground. That could include mobilizing the National Guard to support border patrol as well.

“We’re certainly talking to the federal government about perhaps sending them under federal orders, which gives them more broader authority to act and provide support to the Border Patrol,” she said.

Hobbs also wrote a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to mobilize 243 National Guard troops who are already in Tucson to reopen the Lukeville port.

The letter comes after Hobbs and lawmakers from both parties criticized the decision to close the port

Congressmen Juan Ciscomani, a Republican, and Greg Stanton, a Democrat, issued a joint statement demanding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security provide a timeline for reopening the border. 

“Arizonans and Mexicans benefit from efficient cross-border commerce and tourism,” they wrote. “We’ve heard from constituents concerned about the impact of the port’s closure on their businesses and personal travel. We’re also deeply concerned the closure may increase wait times and force trade and tourism to reroute to already understaffed ports in the Tucson and Yuma sectors.”

And Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives sent a letter of their own to the president, blaming Biden’s Administration for the crisis.

“The decision to close the Lukeville Port of Entry as a solution to the crisis you created is unacceptable and must be reversed immediately,” they wrote. 

Hobbs said the closure is not the right response to a migrant surge, saying it is hurting Arizona’s tourism and economy. 

In the letter, Hobbs also asked Biden to reimburse the state of Arizona over $500 million for money spent on border operations “due to the federal government’s failure to secure our border.” 

More stories from KJZZ

PoliticsFronterasImmigration Southwest Border