PHOENIX — After weeks of challenging President Biden's administration to do more on the border, the governor’s office confirmed Doug Ducey met with Counselor to the President Steve Ricchetti Tuesday. The two reportedly talked about the border, COVID vaccine allocation, infrastructure, and water.
The governor’s office did not describe the tone of the meeting or whether the Biden administration promised any action to resolve what the governor is calling a crisis at the border.
In a jointly written editorial published Wednesday in the Washington Post, Governor Ducey and Texas Governor Greg Abbott accuse the Biden administration of creating the crisis. Writing Biden’s pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants offered amnesty for those who circumvented the legal process.
Both governors have invited the president and Vice President Harris to tour the border. Neither has accepted. When asked by reporters Wednesday if she was planning a trip there, Vice President Harris said she was handling the foreign policy portion of the immigrant crisis, and that Homeland Security's Alejandro Mayorkas is dealing with the border.
At a media availability on April 8, the governor talked tough. He once again dismissed the choice of Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the administration’s immigration response and said, “we’re going to use every tool, authority, and resource that we have to be successful on the southwest border. We need to work in partnership with the federal government but Arizona is going to act.”
That includes the governor calling up the Arizona National Guard to assist federal and local authorities who are dealing with immigrants crossing into Arizona. Ducey wants the Biden administration to pay for the Guard’s help. So that far it’s not happening.
In Phoenix, immigration activists hoped the governor and the White House could reach some agreement on the border, although they weren’t counting on it.
“I believe what he’s going to do is advocate for more money for ICE and CBP,” said Karina Ruiz, Director of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition. “That is not going to be helpful or productive for immigration.”
As part of its $1.7 trillion discretionary spending request, the Biden administration wants $1.2 billion for border infrastructure, with most of the money going to modern border security technology and upgrades at Ports of Entry. There is no money for border wall construction beyond 2021.
The administration is also asking for nearly $1 billion to fund and provide support for 100 new immigration judges. Currently, there is a 1.3 million case backlog in immigration court.
“It will allow them to see that the process has the resources to man this process quickly,” said Immigration Attorney Ezequiel Hernandez. “Decisions will be made positive or negative quicker so that we can alleviate some of the concerns some in the U.S. have.”
Money for immigration courts and hi-tech security on the border is nice to have. But it’s doubtful that is what Governor Ducey asked of the White House. We may never know what was even discussed. Because now no one wants to talk about it.