Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake unveiled a border security plan aimed at circumventing the federal government through the creation of an interstate compact.
Titled “Defend Arizona: We will do what Washington will not,” her plan will bring states together to use Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution to “declare their territories as under invasion and declare it their sovereign right to secure the borders of the United States.” Lake told The Arizona Sun Times, “The people of Arizona and the people of this country are dying to have real solutions to bring sanity and the security back to the border.”
A record number of migrants – up 2,405% – are currently crossing Arizona’s border with Mexico in the Yuma sector, and a higher than normal percentage of them have criminal backgrounds. Gov. Doug Ducey sent troops and officers to the border in 2021, and earlier this month, Yuma Mayor Douglass Nichols declared an emergency there.
Lake’s plan, which she would like to see implemented as soon as possible, even during Ducey’s remaining year, would have Arizona lead a coalition of like-minded states in drafting the compact. Because the federal government is not guaranteeing protection to the states as required by Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, the states may invoke “our inherent power to fend off the invasion at our southern border in the absence of federal protection.”
Representatives from each state will set up a dedicated border security force with authority to “arrest, detain, and return illegal immigrants back across the border.” The coalition would go so far as to “Invalidate federal restrictions and regulations on border enforcement administered by agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Land Management.”
Lake’s plan would increase the presence of the Arizona National Guard. They would destroy smuggler and cartel tunnels, “consulting with Israeli military officials experienced in dealing with Hamas tunnel networks.” The National Guard would also have authority to shoot down unauthorized drones coming from Mexico and “arrest illegal immigrants and cartel operatives.”
The coalition will keep the federal government informed about its operations, but “will not seek Washington’s permission for its operations.” It will also report to the participating states’ legislatures.
Arizona already accepts assistance on the border from other states’ National Guards. The Kentucky National Guard helped out on the Arizona border recently for 10 months.
Unlike Texas, much of Arizona’s land next to the Mexico border is owned by the federal government or Native American tribes, so local and state governments cannot build a wall or take enforcement actions. When the Arizona National Guard is deployed to the border, the troops generally engage in routine and humanitarian activities for the Border Patrol, which frees up the latter up to engage in a higher number of enforcement actions.
Arizona rancher Jim Chilton, who spent decades policing the border due to inaction from the federal government, praised Lake’s border plan. He said in a statement for The Sun Times, “Kari Lake asks the important questions: why doesn’t President Biden enforce existing immigration laws? Why does the federal government allow transnational cartels to make millions smuggling drugs, thousands of economic refugees, sex workers and criminals into Arizona? Why are undocumented aliens from hundreds of foreign nations treated as though they have the right to ignore the law? Why were large gaps left in the border wall that funnel illegal traffic right through border residents’ property?”
Lake said the border crisis has risen to the level of an invasion due to “nearly two million illegal immigrant apprehensions this past year and another estimated 400,000 that evaded border patrol agents, courtesy of violent international drug cartels operating inside northern Mexico.”
National Border Patrol President Brandon Judd looked at the policy and told Lake, “After thoroughly reviewing Kari Lake’s strategy, I fully endorse her bold plan to finish President Trump’s wall and secure Arizona’s border. The aggressive policy is one of the best proposals we have ever seen.”
She addressed claims that the border is a federal responsibility. While the federal “statute is clear that the federal government is responsible for enforcing security at our nation’s borders … [the] statute does not supersede the Constitution.”
Lake said she is prepared to work with three more years of inaction and enabling by the Biden administration. “If Washington intends to abandon Arizona, we will exercise a federalist remedy with like-minded states across our great nation to deal with the crisis ourselves,” she said.
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