Arizona’s Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly are both backing the governor’s decision to deploy the National Guard to the southern border in response to the surge in migrants that has overwhelmed authorities.
"I welcome the Governor's action to provide logistical support to Arizona communities, and look forward to hearing more details about how the National Guard will assist," Sinema said in a statement. "I will continue working closely with Arizona leaders and organizations to support our border communities, secure the border, prevent the spread of COVID-19, and treat all migrants and unaccompanied children fairly and humanely."
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday announced that he is deploying the state’s National Guard to the border and issuing an emergency declaration in response to the growing migrant crisis.
"It’s just as bad, if not worse, than the coverage we've been seeing," Ducey said in a statement. The U.S. border patrol is overwhelmed, local law enforcement and mayors are calling out for help. Citizens in our border communities are concerned for their safety and non-profits left to pick up the pieces of broken federal policies are strained."
The Guard will be involved with installing and maintaining border cameras, collecting data, analyzing imagery for trends in border crossings, and helping with operations at detention centers, Ducey's office said.
Ducey had indicated for weeks that he was considering deploying the Guard and had requested federal reimbursement to do so.
On Tuesday, Ducey noted the White House’s backtracking on President Biden’s initial description of the situation as a "crisis." The White House later said he was referring to what is going on in Central America.
Ducey was also critical of what he described as "inaction" by the White House and a lack of planning — and said it forced Arizona to have to act by itself.
"[I]t doesn’t look like this administration is going to act any time soon, and we’re not going to sit around and wait any longer," Ducey said.
Sen. Kelly gave his support to the move to deploy the Guard and notably described the situation at the border as a crisis.
"There is a crisis on the border and I have pushed the administration for the additional resources, staffing, transportation, and the testing necessary to provide a secure, orderly process that does not fall on Arizona communities," Kelly said.
"In visiting the Yuma Sector and speaking with Border Patrol and other local leaders, it’s clear that their resources and staffing are strained," he said. "There are important missions that the Arizona National Guard can perform at the border and the governor calling them up will provide assistance to both local law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security."
Both senators later wrote to President Biden, urging him to reimburse Arizona for the National Guard deployment.
"We know the National Guard can provide important assistance on the border and note that there are approximately 500 Guardsmen already deployed to the Yuma and Tucson sectors," the Democrats wrote in a letter. "As such, we request you reimburse the state of Arizona for the deployment the Governor announced yesterday to support border security and continue to increase DHS personnel who can further assist with the processing of migrants, securing the border, and executing important security missions"
Officials encountered more than 172,000 migrants at the border, including a record number of unaccompanied children — a surge that has overwhelmed authorities and led to the Biden administration having to open a number of new facilities to house migrants.