By Daniel Trotta
(Reuters) – Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs on Friday ordered National Guard troops to the border with Mexico, saying the U.S. federal government’s recent decision to close a legal port of entry in her state “has led to an unmitigated humanitarian crisis.”
It was a notable rebuke of President Joe Biden by a fellow Democrat as border security is shaping up to be a major issue in the 2024 presidential campaign, with Biden seeking re-election next November.
“Yet again, the federal government is refusing to do its job to secure our border and keep our communities safe,” Hobbs said in a press statement.
The governor did not say how many members of the National Guard would be deployed but that they would be stationed along the southern border near the Lukeville port of entry and the San Miguel crossing.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Dec. 4 closed the Lukeville legal border crossing until further notice to redirect resources to increased illegal smuggling of migrants elsewhere on the border. CBP said it was “surging all available resources to expeditiously and safely process migrants.”
Hobbs, in her executive order to mobilize the National Guard, said the resulting “crisis” has put public safety and commerce at risk. She had previously asked Biden to reassign the Arizona National Guard to reopen the Lukeville port of entry.
“With this Executive Order, I am taking action where the federal government won’t,” Hobbs said in her press statement, adding that the Biden administration has also “failed to respond” to her request to reimburse the state for border security spending.
Border security has often been a partisan issue, with Republicans seeking more restrictive and aggressive measures while Democrats have placed more emphasis on the humanitarian needs of impoverished migrants and asylum-seekers coming from around the world.
But Biden has also felt pressure from some Democrats, including the big city mayors of Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and New York, who have asked Biden for more funding and action to reduce their immigration burden.
Republicans have demanded tighter immigration policies on the border, seeking concessions from the president by blocking his requests for war funding for Ukraine and Israel.
The U.S. Senate will vote on military aid for Ukraine and Israel next week as negotiations on border policy continue, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Tom Hogue)