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Arizona Gov. declares state of emergency at border, sending National Guard

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Asylum seekers are detained by US Border Patrol agents after crossing into the US near Yuma, Ariz., on Monday. (Reuters photo)

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has declared a state of emergency at the state’s southern border with Mexico, sending 250 National Guard troops there to assist law enforcement officials.

“The US Border Patrol is overwhelmed. Local law enforcement and mayors are calling out for help,” the Republican governor said Tuesday in a recorded statement.

“Citizens and our border communities are concerned for their safety and nonprofits, left to pick up the pieces of broken federal policies, are strained.”

Ducey said the state would allot $25 million to fund the National Guard mission, but did not clarify how long the deployment would last.

This comes as Democratic President Joe Biden is accused of inciting a chaotic migrant rush on the US border with Mexico after he vowed to unwind many of the immigration policies of his predecessor Donald Trump when he assumed office in January.

Ducey has quarreled with the Biden administration over its immigration policies, calling the situation on the border a “crisis.”

“If this administration isn’t going to do anything, then we will,” Ducey said.

His state is the first one to declare an emergency related to this year’s rapid rise in arrests of migrants crossing the border illegally.

Border Patrol agents arrested nearly 168,000 at the border in March, in comparison with around 71,000 in December.

Last month, Texas deployed around 500 National Guard troops at the border, but the state’s governor did not declare a state of emergency.

Trump ordered thousands of federal troops and National Guard troops to the border at the start of the last spike of illegal immigration in 2018.

Later, the former president declared a national emergency at the border. Troops have remained at the border under the Biden administration.

National Guard troops were also deployed to the border during the administrations of former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Ducey said the troops his state deployed will not conduct law-enforcement operations, as has been the case during previous deployments.

Instead, he added, they will help with medical operations inside detention centers and installing, maintaining and monitoring a state-operated border camera network.

The Biden administration announced measures to halt the construction of Trump’s border wall and to allow asylum seekers to live in the US rather in Mexico until their claims are considered.

The administration, however, opened detention centers, used by Trump, to lock up refugee children — a move the Democrat had criticized as former president’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Republicans have ripped Biden for undoing Trump’s policies, saying he created the border chaos with a "naive immigration stance."

“The numbers don’t lie, this drastic surge is a direct result of the bad policy, coming out of Washington, D.C., and yet we still haven’t received an adequate response from the Biden administration,” Ducey said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union in Arizona said Ducey’s actions “do nothing more than further militarize our border communities and stoke unnecessary and unjustified fear.”

Also, Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva, whose district includes Arizona’s southern border, described the deployment as a purely political move, saying the move will do nothing to resolve backlogs, improve care of unaccompanied minors, or help border communities.

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