Law enforcement agencies on the Mexican border will get $10 million in grants, assistance from DPS and increased aerial surveillance under a plan unveiled by Gov. Jan Brewer.
Brewer also pledged to continue pressing the federal government for increased funding for the Arizona National Guard, which will conduct training missions along the border with local law enforcement agencies. Brewer said she wants the federal government to provide funding for 250 additional National Guard troops who could provide support for law enforcement agencies through an anti-drug trafficking task force.
Parts of Brewer’s plan, which she unveiled April 22 at the Arizona National Guard’s Papago Park Military Reservation, are contingent on federal willingness to provide additional National Guard troops and additional funding to the state. Brewer said Arizona cannot afford to send troops to the border, as New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson recently did, without federal assistance because of its woeful fiscal state. A year-long deployment would cost the state $28-30 million, Brewer said.
“More needs to be done, and I am doing it with every means at my disposal,” Brewer said.
But Brewer said there are things Arizona can do on its own. She said she will provide $10 million of her discretionary stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to border-area law enforcement. Brewer said she will meet next week with law enforcement agencies to discuss the Border Security Enhancement Program, as the grant program is called.
Brewer said she is also directing Adjutant Gen. Hugo Salazar, commander of the Arizona National Guard, to redirect some of his resources toward the border, including increased helicopter surveillance missions and additional ground surveillance through the Joint Counter Narco-Terrorism Task Force. She offered to deploy Department of Public Safety personnel to any border law enforcement agency that requests state assistance.
“Arizona has been patient. We have been more than understanding. We have waited for those who are 3,000 miles away to hear us and to help us. We can’t afford to wait any longer,” Brewer said.
Brewer said she is “generally supportive” of a 10-point border security plan released by U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl. That plan calls for 3,000 additional National Guard troops along the border, 700 miles of fencing and increased federal grants to local law enforcement agencies under a federal program called Operation Stonegarden.
The governor’s plan comes amid furor over a bill passed by the Legislature that would enact strict new state laws against illegal immigration, and increased cries for additional border security following the murder of Cochise County rancher Rob Krentz. Brewer would not say whether she will sign S1070.
Brewer’s plan also calls for annual National Guard training missions in Southern Arizona, as well as joint training exercises with local law enforcement agencies on border security matters.