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Ducey: Call for National Guard not border militarization

Troops will repair roads, run cameras, and provide 'aerial support'

Citing a surge in apprehensions by Border Patrol agents, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey praised the Trump administration for "finally taking action" to secure the border by calling on governors in southwestern states to deploy National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

"There is no militarization of the border," said Ducey on Friday, flanked by dozens of National Guard soldiers dressed in fatigues, intermixed with Border Patrol agents from the Nogales station. 

Instead, National Guard troops will support Border Patrol, leaving agents to enforce the law, Ducey said during a press conference at the Border Patrol station in Nogales. 

"The people of Arizona have been calling on the federal government to secure this border for many years," the governor said. 

Under Operation Guardian Shield, Ducey plans to deploy 338 members of the Arizona National Guard to help with border security, including 110 guardsmen who will provide air support from a base in Marana, and another 60 who will work in Nogales. 

Ducey was introduced by Rodolfo Karisch, the chief of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, who said that the governor was "one of the people who understands the challenges that agents have on the border." 

Border security is "national security issue," Karisch said. "The president has demonstrated his commitment to using every available tool and resource to help us down here on the border." 

Like with previous deployments under the Bush and Obama administrations, National Guard troops will be asked to provide aerial support, help with road maintenance and operate some surveillance camera systems, said Karisch. 

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And, with these roles filled by National Guard personnel, some Border Patrol agents will be shifted back to "vital duties," he said.

Immigration enforcement will remain the responsibility of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other agencies within the Department of Homeland Security, said Karisch. 

Karisch and Ducey were joined by the commander of the Arizona Department of Public Safety Frank Milstead, Major General Michael T. McGuire and Brigadier General John E. Hoefert from the Arizona National Guard, Nogales Mayor John Doyle, and a representative of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office. 

Both Ducey and Karisch focused on the rapid uptick of apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border, calling the change a "surge." 

While apprehensions of suspected illegal immigrants in 2018 have seen a dramatic increase over the year earlier, 2017 was a year of strikingly low apprehensions all along the southwestern border. 

Ducey said from month-to-month and year-to-year there was a substantial surge, a statistic that Karisch agreed with. 

"We have seen spikes throughout the Southwest," said Karisch. "In March, we saw a tremendous number of apprehensions go up. We are seeing spikes in traffic all along the southwest border. In Rio Grande Valley, we're seeing spikes, but Tucson Sector is a close second in apprehensions," he said. 

Overall, apprehensions along the southwestern border have increased more than 200 percent from March 2017 compared to March 2018, and Tucson Sector also shows a marked rise in the number of border crossers taken into custody. In March of this year, Tucson Sector agents apprehended 5,784 people, far more than same month last year, when agents arrested 2,148 people. 

However, fiscal year 2017 had some of the lowest apprehensions on record, following more than a decade of decreasing apprehensions in nearly every Border Patrol sector, including the Tucson Sector. A year earlier, Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents apprehended 6,142 people in March. 

Karisch said that the National Guard and CBP were developing a "planned, phased approach" for using Guard troops, and while the initial deployment will be between the ports of entry, some National Guard may be sent to screen cargo at the ports. 

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Ducey noted during the press conference that the National Guard troops were deployed under Title 32, shifting the cost of deploying the troops away from the state's general fund and to the federal government. 

When asked if deploying troops would harm the economy of Nogales by painting Southern Arizona as dangerous, Ducey said that the economy was growing and that Arizona was safe, but when it came to balancing the economy with public safety, "public safety has to come first." 

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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have your say   

2 comments on this story

2
4 comments
Apr 15, 2018, 1:05 pm
-0 +0

THE MEXICAN INVASION MUST STOP!!!
MEXICO DOES NOT NEED TO DECLARE WAR
AGAINST THE U.S.

MEXICO SILENTLY MURDERING AMERICAN CITIZENS
AND OVERWHELMING THE U.S. WITH ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS….  AND ON TOP OF THESE CRIMES
ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS SEND BILLIONS BACK TO
GRAND OLD MEXICO EVERY YEAR.

1
4 comments
Apr 15, 2018, 1:03 pm
-0 +1

WHATS WRONG WITH MILITARIZING OUR BORDER WITH MEXICO?  DOES THIS OFFEND THE CORRUPT MEXICAN SO CALLED GOV’T?

80% OF OPIODS SOLD OUTSIDE U.S. PHARMACY
ARE BROUGHT TO THE U.S. ILLEGALLY VIA MEXICO
KILLING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS EVERY YEAR.

WAKE UP AMERICA!

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey with Rodolfo Karisch, the chief patrol agent of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, during a press conference at the Nogales station.