The first 225 members of the Arizona National Guard have been sent to the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a security mission announced last week by Defense Secretary James Mattis. Additional Guard members will be deployed Tuesday, April 10, Governor Doug Ducey said.
This morning, Ducey held a official send-off for the National Guard at Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix. "We finally have an administration that's paying attention to the border," he said, contending that Washington had ignored the security of Arizona's border for the past decade.
President Trump's critics and Ducey's political opponents have described the deployment of 4,000 members of the National Guard as a stunt and an ultimately pointless exercise, considering that the number of apprehensions at the southwest border dropped significantly after Trump took office.
But Ducey argued that the additional troops are needed in order to keep Arizona safe.
"I don't think that this is a partisan issue or an identity issue," he told members of the media on Monday morning. "You show me somebody who's for drug cartels or human trafficking or this ammunition that's coming over a wide open and unprotected border here."
The federal government will be covering the cost of having the National Guard stationed at the border, Ducey said. No date has been set for when the guard members will return to Phoenix.
Ducey indicated that while he'd like to see more "boots on the ground" and high-tech solutions for border security, he's also fully on board with Building The Wall (TM).
"Two-thirds of our border already has a wall, so if we want to fill in the other third with a wall, I would welcome that," he said. "I don't like how our border is unsecured, particularly in the Tucson sector."
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So how will we know if having hundreds of members of the National Guard down at the border is actually making a difference?
"I think the success is going to be around, do we stop the flow of illegal drugs?" Ducey said. "Do we stop the flow of human trafficking? Can we stop illegal migrants from coming over?"
Those kinds of activities will likely never come to a complete halt, Ducey acknowledged.
However, he said, "I think you can call it a success if you're reducing it, and you're reducing it dramatically."