AZ Gov. Hobbs and DHS Secretary Mayorkas visit southern border

The visit comes as U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to see record numbers of illegal border crossings.

Published: March 23, 2023 12:30pm

Updated: March 23, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

Gov. Katie Hobbs and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited the border community of Nogales, Arizona, to discuss border security and humanitarian efforts. This is Hobbs' third visit to the border in her 100 days in office.

The visit follows a series of gubernatorial hearings last week on the effects of the potential repeal of Title 42. The policy was enacted during COVID-19 as a means of curbing border crossings. If repealed on May 11, it could result in a record number of migrants entering the U.S., legal or otherwise.

"My administration is listening not only to local law enforcement in impacted communities, but local elected officials, health care providers and humanitarian aid providers," Hobbs said. "The conversations today have been informative and I'm ready to take what I've heard and get to work on identifying real solutions, hold the federal government accountable, and create a safe Arizona for all residents."

The visit comes as U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to see record numbers of illegal border crossings. More than 1.6 million foreign nationals have been apprehended or reported evading law enforcement officers after illegally entering the U.S. in fiscal 2023 through February, according to Customs and Border Protection apprehension data and gotaway data obtained by The Center Square.

The governor and DHS secretary met first with the Arizona Border Counties Coalition, a representative board of elected supervisors working to improve economic opportunities and lifestyles in border communities. Pima County was represented by Supervisor Sharon Bronson and administrator Jan Lesher. Yuma County's Sup. Tony Reyes, Cochise County's Sup. Ann English and Santa Cruz County's Sup. Bruce Bracker were also in attendance.

They visited the El Rio Community Health Center and later the Casa Alitas migrant shelter, a Catholic nonprofit. The two organizations work tangentially to provide healthcare and resources to immigrants. The meeting also served as an opportunity to meet the new CEO of El Rio, Clinton Kuntz.

Hobbs continued on to meet local Department of Public Safety employees and their families before attending a Tucson Sector border patrol meeting. During this time, Customs and Border Protection collaborated with the Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

The border trip ended with both Hobbs and Mayorkas touring the Mariposa Port of Entry, a key location for fentanyl smuggling. The two officials learned about new detection and screening methods the CBP is implementing to further combat drug trafficking into the U.S.

"I think it's a powerful example of what we can do together, when we work together," Mayorkas said. "There is strength in partnership; we can deliver results when we work together. Collaboration is the key to address very, very complex challenges."

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