EXCLUSIVE: Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Tuesday urged Gov. Doug Ducey to declare a state of emergency in the state in response to the growing crisis at the southern border -- as the state looks to deploy the National Guard to deal with the surge in migrants.
"Reversing the devastating trends at the border will require enforcing the rule of law and holding the federal government accountable," Brnovich said in a letter to his fellow Republican, urging the state government to act "swiftly."
Brnovich calls on Ducey to declare a state of emergency and convene the state’s emergency council to "address the border crisis and the human and illegal drug trafficking that will continue to flow from it."
Border states like Arizona have been at the forefront of the crisis, which has seen more than 172,000 migrants encountered in March alone -- indicators that the surge this year will eclipse that seen in 2019.
The Biden administration has blamed the surge in part on the Trump administration’s dismantling of legal pathways to asylum, while also downplaying it as a "challenge." Meanwhile, Republicans including Ducey and Brnovich have blamed the numbers on the Biden administration’s policies -- such as its decision to roll back Trump-era policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP.)
"This is a crisis, this is an emergency," Ducey said on Fox News’ "Journal Editorial Report" this month. "This is a problem that was largely solved or stable under the previous [Trump] administration. The Biden White House is divorced from reality. They need to fix these policies, properly communicate and provide resources to border states now so we can stem the tide of what's happening at this border. It's both a national security crisis and a humanitarian crisis."
He also summed up the stark conditions facing the state: "We’re at a nearly 500% increase in terms of apprehensions. We’re at 300%-plus increase of people that are coming over that have a previous criminal record."
Ducey has indicated he wants to activate the state’s National Guard to the border and has requested federal reimbursement to do so, something that Arizona has done before during border surges.
"Deployment of the National Guard is critical to dealing with this crisis, and we are actively engaged in planning with the Guard," a spokesperson for the governor told Fox News on Tuesday.
Ducey was in Washington this week talking to lawmakers from Arizona and other states about the border crisis. Last week, he accused the Biden administration of ignoring the situation at the border and indicated the Guard would be activated soon.
"The National Guard will be part of the solution and we will have action taken," he said at a press conference.
Brnovich’s letter urges him to do so immediately, even if the federal reimbursement has not been secured: "They require reinforcements as soon as possible, even if it means we have to act now and fight for the federal dollars later," he writes.
Brnovich also said cities and towns need financial assistance dealing with the influx of migrants, noting that Gila Bend Town Council recently declared a state of emergency after Border Patrol dropped off dozens of migrants at a park.
"These cities and towns will soon hit their breaking point if we do not provide additional resources," he says.
The letter is the latest indicator of how states have been grappling to cope with a dramatic rise in migration themselves -- even as the Biden administration is also scrambling to open migrant facilities while pushing countries south of the border to increase troop presence at their borders.
Brnovich, as state AG, has launched a number of lawsuits aimed at Biden immigration policies, including one this week that alleged that the halt of border wall construction and the ending of MPP was in violation of the National Environmental Protection Act. He has also written to top Biden officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris, inviting them to the border.
Meanwhile, Ducey last week warned that while Arizona can act, it also requires the federal government to take action across the border for it to be fully effective.
"Arizona is going to do its part of course, but if we protect Arizona and these same folks are coming through Texas or New Mexico or California, it really goes for naught," he said.