“State of emergency” in Southwest border states

On Aug. 13, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency for counties along the Mexico border. Governor Janet Napolitano did the same for Arizona on Aug. 15. The states of emergency allow the two governors to spend nearly $1.5 million each to hire more police, buy vehicles and otherwise shore up law enforcement in the counties most affected by the illegal entry of migrants. Both governors had complained for months about federal inattention to the border situation; in an Aug. 11 letter Napolitano told DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff that federal officials had been responding with “bewildering resistance” to her state’s offers to help with joint efforts confronting human trafficking.

After a week of intense press attention to the governors’ actions, DHS responded. In an Aug. 22 letter to Napolitano, Chertoff said ICE will train local investigators to deal with human trafficking in Phoenix, and the Border Patrol will allow its officers to help local police patrol main highways used by immigrants entering the US. DHS also agreed to a state proposal that would allow Arizona to help ICE transport undocumented immigrants. A Richardson spokesperson said Chertoff called Richardson on Aug. 23 and assured him that security along the border is a priority for DHS and that some of the 1,000 border patrol agents expected to be added next year will be posted to New Mexico. (WP, Aug. 24)

From Immigration News Briefs, Aug. 27

See our last post on the border crisis.