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Border sheriffs tell lawmakers they want more state funding for border security

A budget proposal released by Gov. Katie Hobbs last week set aside more state money for projects along the border.

The governor is proposing two border-focused programs.

There first is a $15 million Department of Military Affairs program called SAFE, which the governor's office says will focus on fentanyl interdiction. And another initiative, called SECURE, would give $1 million to the state’s Department of Homeland Security to respond to border issues. 

SAFE that would use $15 million in state funds from the Department of Military Affairs.

Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot told state lawmakers at a Special Joint Legislative Session his department is responding to distress calls from migrants in the rugged desert borderland there.

"We were able to utilize funding given to us by you for our helicopter, which we had no air asset. For many years in Yuma County, we relied on the Marine Corps Search and Rescue, but then the Marine Corps shut that down," Wilmot said. 

Wilmot said his department used state funds from the former Border Strike Force for that effort. He said he’d like additional funding and support from the Department of Homeland Security to go toward monitoring cross-border money laundering and other financial crimes.

Hobbs’ office didn’t respond to questions about either new programs’ details.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.