State Treasurer Dean Martin said he would send National Guard troops to Arizona’s border with Mexico if elected governor.
Martin said he supported S1070, the far-reaching illegal immigration law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in April, but said it does nothing to help secure the border. Because the federal government has not met its responsibility to secure the border, Martin said, Arizona should deploy troops and finish building a fence along the length of the border.
“The federal government hasn’t been doing it. It’s our responsibility to take care of our citizens, take care of our areas. Public safety is a core responsibility of state government,” Martin said during a May 13 press conference on the state’s fiscal condition. “I think once the state does it, the pressure (on the federal government) gets even stronger.”
Brewer has rejected the notion of sending the National Guard to the border, saying the state cannot afford the $28 to $30 million such a deployment would cost per year. Martin said he did not know how much his proposed deployment would cost.
Martin, however, said the state could pay for a deployment with a proposal he drafted to save Arizona about $1.4 billion by refinancing its debt. Most of the money would go toward student body growth in K-12 education and caseload growth in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, he said, but enough could be saved to cover the deployment as well.
Martin is not the only one of Brewer’s GOP primary challengers to propose a guard deployment on the border. Former Arizona Republican Party Chairman John Munger said he would deploy troops to the border as well, and businessman Buz Mills said he supports the idea as well, but said it could be difficult because of the number of National Guard troops who are already serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If the Arizona National Guard does not have enough troops to cover the deployment itself, Martin said it could enter into an agreement with other states for troops. He said other states made similar troop contributions during Operation Jump Start, a 2006 National Guard deployment on the border.