Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is one of the highest-profile politicians to criticize the Biden administration’s approach to the crisis at the Southern border. Whether it’s the near ending of Title 42 or stopping border wall construction, the White House has steered away from conservative border policies as much as possible.
While the federal government is primarily in control of what happens at the United States-Mexico border, Ducey spoke with PJ Media to explain what his administration has been doing at the state level to deal with the humanitarian and national security crisis impacting Arizona.
Please note that this interview has been edited for grammar, length, and clarity.
Cameron Arcand: A couple of weeks ago, you helped create the American Governors’ Border Strike Force, and I was kind of curious about it, because I was wondering, “How does something that mostly affects the Southwest affect the rest of the country?” So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how that partnership is going to function.
Gov. Doug Ducey: Sure. Well, today, every day, every state is a border state. This crisis at the border is affecting all of our towns and communities across the country. The inflow of fentanyl across the southern border is a public safety crisis. When you read about an overdose death in Indianapolis or Toledo or Omaha, unfortunately, that came across our Southern border. So it was really an idea put together by myself and Greg Abbott, along with the other Republican governors, is to how we can fill the void left by the federal administration and the dereliction of duty from Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Secretary Mayokas, who just want to avert their gaze to the reality of what’s happening on the southern border.
We’re highlighting the public safety part of it. But there’s also a national security crisis there. We don’t know who these people are that are over, upflowing, and overwhelming our borders. Then, of course, we were told there was a pandemic. It seems that they want people to wear a mask in airports and on planes, yet there’s no testing or vaccination of people that are streaming over the border … in violation of our laws.
CA: But what’s interesting is the one public health order that they want to scrap is Title 42. That seems to be the one now that they want to phase out soon. You have Republicans and even some Democrats wanting to keep Title 42 in place. There’s one estimate right now that says that as many as 18,000 migrants could be coming across the border each day. If Title 42 is lifted, what’s the state’s plan, even though it’s primarily in the federal government’s hands?
DD: Lifting Title 42 would be a mistake of catastrophic measures. It would just be a flat-out mistake to lift that. The 18,000 a day number is the Department of Homeland Security’s number, and that’s over six and a half million additional people a year.
We’re completely overwhelmed, and we’re around 2 million people right now. So Arizona, of course, has stood up its own Border Strike Force, led by the American Governors’ Border Strike Force. We’ve deployed the National Guard to the border. We’re deploying funds in terms of … we’ve got a combination of state land, federal land, private land, and tribal land. Anywhere we can build a wall, a physical barrier, something to help stem the tide, we’re going to, but this is a federal responsibility.
Regardless of what Greg Abbot and Doug Ducey do in Texas and Arizona, if our entire southern border isn’t secure, neither is our nation. So this is something where the Biden administration is going to have to step up. These migrants are also being transported to cities and states all across our country with no warning and little support. And we need a change in federal policy.
Courtesy of Cameron Arcand
CA: Fentanyl trafficking is a massive issue. It’s the number-one killer of people ages 18 to 45, bigger than COVID, bigger than anything that … people rarely discuss in the media now … What is your message to concerned parents and young adults about this new number-one killer that’s essentially out there now because of our border?
DD: First, don’t do drugs, and if you are doing drugs because of this cartel activity, there is a chance that it is laced with this fentanyl. That is poison. That is not a high. That is a death. We’re seeing the numbers that are resulting in that. So I would err on the side of caution; of course, I am calling on the Biden administration to do its duty. We should be interdicting these drugs and stopping these cartels. But today, when we read about these deaths or know people through extended families or networks, this was preventable by not doing the drug in the first place because this poison has become part of it.
CA: Now a lot of people are critical of your approach to the border. You have people on the left saying, “Oh, well, he’s just taking the totally wrong approach. He’s being way too strict with things. This crisis is manufactured.” And then you have people on the other end of it saying, “Oh, well, he’s not doing enough at the border.” What’s your response to those critics? As someone who’s sitting in the office of the governor, what have you been seeing? What’s your response to those people?
DD: Come to the border. See what’s happening at the border. Talk to the border mayors, the border sheriffs, [and] the border ranchers who know everything that our administration is doing, everything possible under the rule of law at the border. And what’s missing is the federal intervention, the support to the brave men and women in the border agencies, Customs and Border Patrol, and ICE. They’ve been left alone, and they may work for the federal government, but many of them are Arizonans. They live in these communities. They care about these communities. They know that the state is doing everything possible and more.
This is the third president that I’ve served alongside and by far the worst. Barack Obama deployed the National Guard to the border. Jerry Brown under Donald Trump deployed the National Guard to the border. Joe Biden is nowhere to be found, and the state is paying for the National Guard, both in Arizona and in Texas.