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Arizona National Guard To Give Air, Logistical Support On Border

Gov. Doug Ducey
(Photo by Matthew Casey - KJZZ)
Gov. Doug Ducey addresses Arizona National Guard troops before they deploy to the Mexican border for Operation Guardian Shield.

Arizona National Guard members are deploying to the Mexican border this week.

Gov. Doug Ducey spoke to some of the troops preparing to head south, saying that their role is to backup federal, state and local law enforcement.

"Your support will free up the border agents to serve on the border, allowing us to put more boots on the ground," he said. 

The Arizona National Guard is expected to give air and logistical support, help with reconnaissance and work on border infrastructure. They’ll be working in what are known as the Tucson and Yuma sectors, which means they could be anywhere along Arizona’s border with Mexico.

This action began when President Donald Trump said he wanted military personnel at the border until a wall is built. Later, he called for the National Guard to help stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking. This request came after years of decreased apprehensions at the border.

However, Ducey noted in his appearance that there was a large spike in illegal activity at the border last month.  

"We want to address that. We want to hit as hard as we can," he said. "I’d like to see it eliminated. But I think you can call it success if you’re reducing it and reducing it dramatically."

Despite the National Guard's intended supporting role, the governor said the success of the mission will be determined by enforcement numbers. While the Nationally Guard’s efforts can certainly influence them, troops don’t have the power to make arrests and seizures.

"Do we stop the flow of illegal drugs? Do we stop the flow of human trafficking? Can we stop illegal migrants from coming over?" Gov. Ducey said.

Ducey continued on to say the federal government will be picking up the tab, but gave no timeline to complete the mission. One thing to keep an eye on as this goes forward is Arizona’s relationship with Mexico. Ducey has put a lot of effort into building economic ties with Sonora, but some Mexican officials have chafed at what they see as militarizing the border. The longer this deployment goes on, the tighter of a line the governor may have to walk.

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Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.