EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday signed legislation committing more than half a billion dollars to border security.
The bulk of the spending ($335 million out of the $564 million) is earmarked for border fence construction and technology improvements. Local news media reported that equates to installing motion sensors, infrared cameras, and aerial drones – a “virtual fence” – because the federal government owns most of the land adjacent to the border and most of it is already walled.
“Inaction by President Biden has led to the worst border crisis in over 20 years,” Ducey, a Republican, said in a statement. “With this investment, we are giving our law enforcement professionals another critical resource they need to do their jobs. We are standing for the rule of law and cementing Arizona’s commitment to securing our state and our nation.”
U.S. authorities have “encountered” 385,631 unauthorized migrants in Arizona since October 1. The Tucson Sector, which includes Eastern Arizona, has seen 44.4 percent more migrants than the previous year. In comparison, the Yuma Sector which comprises the western portion of the state reports a 345 percent increase in apprehensions.
“The number of migrant encounters has skyrocketed at our border, overwhelming law enforcement and Border Patrol,” said U.S. Rep. John Kavanaugh, R-Arizona. “We need more support and physical barriers. This is a reasonable investment in Arizona’s safety and security.”
The legislation includes more than $125 million to support local law enforcement in dealing with the collateral effects of illegal immigration. Sheriff’s deputies will be getting $53.4 million in salary compensation; local counties get $30 million to prosecute human smugglers; Cochise County will receive a $20 million state match for a new jail; local officers working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) get $15 million; and various departments can apply for $10 million in funds to reduce trafficking.
The package contemplates more than $55 million for operations. That includes $30 million for a new State Emergency Operations Center; $15 million for a state police Southern Border Coordinated Response Center; $10 million for National Guard troop deployment as needed; and $800,000 for the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs chain of command.
Another $25 million are to be spent on the migrants. A $15 million fund is created for the transportation of asylum-seekers and $10 million in state cash is earmarked for emergency health care and testing of migrants.
“This investment is critical to saving lives on the border and within our communities,” said Tim Roemer, director of the Arizona Department of Homeland Security. “Not only is this a border crisis, it’s a humanitarian crisis and it’s getting worse. More migrants are making the dangerous journey, fentanyl deaths are spiking […] This funding will go toward critical resources and tools to help us combat dangerous transnational organizations and protect victims.”