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Arizona Lawmakers Take Part In Hearing On Opioids, Border Security

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (center) testifies at a Homeland Security subcommittee hearing in downtown Phoenix.
Matthew Casey/KJZZ
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (center) testifies at a Homeland Security subcommittee hearing in downtown Phoenix.

Two-thirds of Arizona’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representative gathered in downtown Phoenix Wednesday for a hearing on the opioid crisis and border security, and Gov. Doug Ducey was among the witnesses who testified.

Rep. Martha McSally chaired the Homeland Security subcommittee hearing. McSally was flanked on one side by fellow Republicans David Schweikert and Debbie Lesko. On her other side sat Democrats Raúl Grijalva, Ruben Gallego and Kyrsten Sinema, who like McSally, is running for the U.S. Senate.

During the hearing, Grijalva zeroed-in on chronic understaffing and underfunding for U.S. ports of entry.      

“The overwhelming majority of seizures of opioids entering this country illegally happen at the ports of entry,” Grijalva said.

Ducey was the first witness. He spoke about Arizona’s efforts to fight opioids and secure the border with Mexico, then took questions from lawmakers.

When Grijalva asked Ducey how the ports of entry should fit into the overall security strategy, Ducey acknowledged the drugs coming through them. 

“But what we don’t know are about the drugs that are not seized and that are getting to our cities, streets and high schools across the country,” Ducey said.

Opioid users can turn to fentanyl and heroin when they can’t access prescription drugs.

To stop these kinds of narcotics from getting into the country, Ducey said there has to be a comprehensive approach to security along the entire border.

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.