DOUGLAS, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- While visiting the US-Mexico border near Douglas on Friday, Gov. Doug Ducey urged Washington D.C. to step in and manage the influx of migrants and make it clear that America's borders are not open.
In a news conference, Ducey addressed both the security and humanitarian sides of the situation.
I’m grateful to the law enforcement and safety officials who are dedicated to protecting border communities, our entire state, and the nation. pic.twitter.com/sssi26uKlz— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) March 19, 2021
"I'm going to call this situation what it is -- a crisis," Ducey said. "[It is] a man-made crisis caused by elites in Washington, D.C., who are totally divorced from the reality on the ground. Last month, I sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas and outlined our concern with the Biden administration repealing migrant protection protocols. Law enforcement officials and leaders in border communities are concerned that repealing these protocols have directly resulted in a significant influx of unvetted individuals into the United States from Central America. We're already seeing those concerns become a reality, and we know it's going to get dramatically worse before it gets better."
Our nation is on pace to reach the highest number of apprehensions at the border in the last 20 years. We need D.C. to acknowledge this as a crisis — and address this crisis. pic.twitter.com/HaCnQZPxo5— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) March 19, 2021
Ducey said more than 13,000 migrant children are in the custody of Customs and Border Protection right now, which is "the highest number in the history of the agency." The governor went on to explain how the immigration policy decisions made by the Biden administration "directly impact the state of Arizona."
"It's clear that this administration is anti-wall and AWOL -- absent without leave," Ducey said. "They have been absent from the field, and their bad policies and lack of leadership have resulted in this crisis. I've been governor under three presidents, and this is by far the worst situation we have seen. Washington has never been more out of touch and it starts at the top."
Ducey also addressed what Mayorkas said on Tuesday about the U.S. being on track to have more border apprehensions than we've seen in the last 20 years.
"Yet where has the secretary been?" he asked rhetorically. "This is where the action is -- not Washington, D.C."
Sen. Rick Scott from Florida joined Ducey for the border visit, as did Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers, Arizona State Sen. David Gowan, Arizona State Reps. Becky Nutt and Gail Griffin, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and law enforcement officials. Ducey said some members of the group took an aerial tour and were "briefed by the professionals on the ground" ahead of the news conference.
Ducey said the administration needs to address the perception that America's borders are open and "work to deter individuals from making this dangerous journey and sending their children to do so."
"We want to partner with the federal government to improve our immigration system," the governor continued. "What they're doing is wholly inadequate. ... While it's clear that there's still more work to be done, Arizona is here and ready to help."
"Our No. 1 priority is keeping Arizonans safe, and we want to keep these migrants safe, as well," Ducey said.