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Arizona Dem Governor Plans to Defund Border Force Amid Migrant Crisis

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D.) / Getty Images
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D.) / Getty Images

Arizona's Democratic governor Katie Hobbs (D.) plans to defund a border enforcement team that specializes in countering international crime organizations, earning condemnation from critics who point to record numbers of illegal migrants and drugs crossing the border.

The Border Strike Force, established in 2015 by then-governor Doug Ducey (R.) to "help secure Arizona's border and thwart transnational criminal organizations," will be dismantled under Hobbs's proposed budget. The governor, who took office earlier this year, said the funds should be redirected to be "more beneficial" in coordinating law enforcement at the border.

Hobbs's decision to gut the force, which focuses on countering global drug smugglers, comes as the United States faces record amounts of drugs coming over the border, with reported fentanyl seizures at U.S. ports of entries quadrupling from 2019 to 2021. The decision could prove to be a political gift to Republicans, who will likely need to win Arizona to have any chance of winning back the White House in 2024. Nearly four in five voters in the state say illegal immigration is a bad thing, and a wide majority support building a wall, according to recent polls.

Hobbs has argued, based on reporting in the Arizona Republic, that the force had not lived up to its purpose. Among the criticisms is that more than 60 percent of drug seizures were conducted by officers outside the force. While Democrats are saying the force is for show, it has scored major drug busts, according to Fox News.

Republicans blasted Hobbs's decision. Rep. Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) said "countless more people" would die from Hobbs's "open border policies."

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