By Corinne Murdock |
Last week, Gov. Katie Hobbs held “listening sessions” ahead of her third trip to the southern border in order to better understand the border crisis.
Hobbs met with groups that provide housing and transport for illegal immigrants seeking asylum to discuss the anticipated impact of Title 42’s end come May 11. These included Campesinos sin Fronteras, International Rescue Committee, Regional Center Border Health and representatives from Greyhound lines and Sky Harbor International Airport.
The governor claimed in a press release that her administration has “proactively” addressed the crisis.
“My administration is proactively addressing the myriad of issues with our southern border, and want to hear from organizations on the ground regarding how the administration can better support efforts to coordinate and collaborate on processing these individuals in the most humane and efficient manner,” said Hobbs.
There have been well over 4.9 million southwest border encounters since President Joe Biden took office. That’s an average of over 197,000 encounters a month. At this rate, there could be well over 9.4 million illegal immigrant encounters by the end of the president’s first term.
The encounter data doesn’t include gotaways: those illegal immigrants not apprehended but observed crossing into the country.
Hobbs plans to visit the border on Tuesday; her third since taking office in January, previously visiting Yuma, San Luis, and Somerton. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas plans to join Hobbs for this latest border visit.
The governor has taken the opposite approach from her predecessor when it comes to border security. Almost immediately after taking office, Hobbs had the shipping containers removed and repurposed into houses for the homeless. Hobbs claimed that former Gov. Doug Ducey’s effort to close the border was a “publicity stunt,” and not a permanent solution.
The state spent about $95 million on construction and $75 million on removal of the shipping containers.
Following her election, Hobbs also pledged to dissolve Ducey’s Border Strike Force (BSF), established in 2015. Hobbs clarified during a press conference last month that the BSF would go away — but not its funding and resources.
“Right now, the Border Strike Force is not actually being utilized at the border, so we want to coordinate those resources where they can be most helpful with the law enforcement there,” said Hobbs. “It’s really important to listen to the folks working in the field that are experts on these and take our direction from them.”
Hobbs has also advocated for greater benefits to illegal immigrants, asking lawmakers for $40 million to finance illegal immigrants’ college tuition during her State of the State address in January.