Arizona Gov. Hobbs signs order sending National Guard to border

By Wayne Schutsky, Ignacio Ventura
Published: Friday, December 15, 2023 - 3:39pm
Updated: Monday, December 18, 2023 - 9:16am

Hobbs abortion signatures
Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ
Gov. Katie Hobbs speaks to reporters on Nov. 28, 2023 before signing a petition to put an abortion rights measure on Arizona ballots in 2024.

Gov. Katie Hobbs announced Friday that she’s sending National Guard troops to Arizona’s southern border roughly two weeks after the federal government shuttered the Lukeville Port of Entry.

In a letter sent last week to the Biden administration, Hobbs asked the president to use federal authority to move National Guard troops in Tucson to Lukeville to reopen the port. Hobbs also vowed she would deploy the Arizona National Guard if the president did not act soon to reopen the port, which serves as Arizona’s gateway to Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point. 

But the governor’s executive order does not task the National Guard with reopening the Lukeville port.

Instead, troops will assist state and local law enforcement with the fallout of the Lukeville closure and the migrant surge that prompted the federal government to close the port in the first place. Guard troops will provide analytical support and aid efforts to curb the fentanyl trade and human trafficking. 

Hobbs also ordered the Department of Public Safety to increase its presence at the border “to enforce the laws of the state.”

In a press release announcing the executive order, Hobbs also noted that she did not receive a response from the Biden administration to her request that the federal government reimburse Arizona over $500 million the state has spent on border security.

Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton praised the governor’s decision to send the National Guard.

“We need to get the Lukeville Port of Entry open as quickly as possible. The extended closure of Lukeville will be devastating for the Arizona economy. It will hurt our tourism economy. It will hurt our retail economy," he said.

Stanton also says the Biden administration does not realize how much the economy on both sides of the border are affected by the closure.

The order means some Arizona guard members may spend their holidays at the border. Capt. Erin Hannigan said the guard consists of citizen soldiers who put communities ahead of themselves and others.

“That is something that we run into consistently whether it be mobilizations for the state, mobilizations for the nation. But the one thing that is across the board with our service members is their desire to serve and be there,” she said.

Hannigan said plans to deploy are still underway.

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