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Hobbs says she won't send National Guard to Arizona-Mexico border — for now

Gov. Katie Hobbs said she doesn’t plan to send National Guard troops to Arizona’s southern border after Customs and Border Protection closed the port of entry in Lukeville in response to a migrant surge.

CBP announced last week it would close the port indefinitely beginning today in order to redirect manpower to address an increase in encounters with migrants crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S. Agents who staffed the Lukeville port will now help process those new arrivals. 

Hobbs didn’t rule out sending the National Guard to the border in the future, but she said that is not currently what those on the ground are asking for. Hobbs put the onus on the Biden administration, saying CBP needs more resources, specifically more agents.

“We need the federal government to step up and do its job and secure our border,” Hobbs said. 

The governor said the current situation is negatively impacting Arizona.

“This is a bad decision that impacts our border security,” she said. “It hurts our economy, because it’s putting a damper on trade and tourism.”

The Lukeville port of entry is frequented by Arizona residents traveling to and from the Mexican resort town of Puerto Peñasco, or Rocky Point. Travelers now must reroute through ports of entry in San Luis or Nogales, detours that can add hours to their trips.

Mexico is Arizona’s largest trading partner, and the state exported around $8.7 billion worth of goods to the country in 2022, according to the Arizona-Mexico Commission.

Only a fraction of that trade travels through Lukeville, according to University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, but Hobbs said she is concerned the staffing shortage seen at Lukeville could eventually impact other ports of entry.

The governor has so far resisted calls by Republicans —  including Republican Congressman Juan Ciscomani and state Sen. TJ. Shope (R-Coolidge) — to send National Guard troops to the border to supplement CBP agents.

Hobbs said her office remains in contact with local law enforcement and border community mayors, and “we’re going to deploy resources when they’re needed.”

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Wayne Schutsky is a broadcast field correspondent covering Arizona politics on KJZZ. He has over a decade of experience as a journalist reporting on local communities in Arizona and the state Capitol.