Surrounded by Republican politicians, Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday insisted that everything that is now going wrong on the border is the fault of President Biden, his administration and the Democratic Congress.
Using sometimes blistering words, Ducey called the current influx of migrants “a man-made crisis caused by elites in Washington, D.C. who are totally divorced from the reality on the ground.
It starts, the governor said, with the administration’s decision to repeal the “migrant protection protocols.” In essence, this program required anyone seeking admission to this country, even with a claim of asylum, was required to wait in Mexico.
“The repeal of these protocols have directly resulted in a significant influx of unvetted individuals into the United States from Central America,” Ducey said. “And we know it’s going to get dramatically worse before it gets better.”
The governor cited figures from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that the Border Patrol is on pace to reach the highest number of apprehensions in 20 years.
“Yet where has the secretary been?” Ducey said, chiding Mayorkas by saying “this is where the action is, not Washington, D.C.”
And then there’s the fact that Biden ordered a halt to further wall construction.
“It’s clear that this administration is anti-wall and AWOL, absent without leave,” the governor said.
“They have been absent from the field,” he continued. “And their bad policies and lack of leadership have resulted in this crisis.”
Ducey brushed aside questions about data that showed there already was an increase in people trying to cross the border last April, when Republican Donald Trump was still president.
“This was largely solved a year ago,” he said.
“The system is broken,” the governor declared. “Joe Biden has broken our border.
The governor’s assessment got support from Florida Sen. Rick Scott, also a Republican, who flew in for the event which included a 20-minute helicopter tour of the border and discussions with local leaders. Scott said there was a 23% increase in apprehensions by the Border Patrol between January and February, coinciding with the change in administration — and policies.
“This all started with Joe Biden,” Scott said.
“His amnesty plan makes no sense at all,” he continued. “We’re a nation of laws. Follow the law.”
Both acknowledged that the House has approved some measures designed to deal with border issues, including one to provide a path to citizenship for “dreamers” and another to provide a legal and steady source of agricultural workers. But that, the governor said, misses the point.
“The Biden administration confuses immigration with border security,” Ducey said.
“This is a border security issue,” the governor said. “That’s Step 1. Then we can talk immigration.”
More to the point, at least politically, Scott said those House-passed bills are going nowhere in the Senate. While the Democrats control 50 seats — plus the vice president to break a tie — most legislation needs 60 votes to clear any threat of a filibuster.
Scott said GOP senators have proposed legislation to deal with security, only to find they have been swatted down by Democrats.
“The Democrats don’t want to do anything,” Scott said. So the result is the House approving measures without Republican support knowing that makes them effectively dead on arrival in the Senate.
“They want to leave immigration out there as an issue,” he said of the Democrats. “They do not want to solve the problem.”
Ducey denied that the all-Republican press event at the border was little more than a political photo-op to bash the Biden administration. He said the trip also includes conversations with border officials, Douglas Mayor Don Huish and ranchers in an effort to find the facts.
“And the facts are, this needs attention from Washington, D.C.,” he said.
Ducey and Scott weren’t the only Republicans at the fence-side event. Ducey also invited several legislative Republicans and the Republican sheriff of the county, Mark Dannels.
Yet while the governor said this is a problem that requires the attention of Congress, there was no invite for the Democrats in that body. That led to questions about the decision not to ask Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, the state’s two senators — and both Democrats — to come to the event and participate.
“They’re welcome to come any time they like,” Ducey said. “They don’t need an invitation.”
The governor did not deny policies during the Trump administration resulted in children who came across the border being separated from their parents. And Ducey said that kind of thing should not happen.
But he said the current policies of admitting unaccompanied minors has resulted in about 13,000 youngsters currently being detained while being processed.
“And 13,000 children in custody is not humane,” he said.