PHOENIX, Arizona – Republican members of the state legislature gathered outside the state capitol to discuss the ongoing crisis at the southern border and how they plan to address it in the coming session. State Representative Steve Montenegro (R-Avondale) began the meeting by addressing the fentanyl flowing into the country across the border.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is now a public health crisis, and we need to take swift action to deal with what is happening, to combat it,” Montenegro said. “The legislature is focused on empowering law enforcement to stop border crimes by directing resources, forming task forces, and applying pressure on those who are abetting this crisis and denying the disastrous effects it has on our communities.”
Aside from giving law enforcement the resources needed to combat this crisis, Montenegro also mentioned increasing education efforts so that everyone in the state is aware of and has the tools to respond to the fentanyl overflow and border crisis at large. Moreover, he stated that there need to be harsher penalties for those caught peddling fentanyl, which would be accomplished through a bill State Representative Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott) already sponsored this session.
Furthermore, Montenegro called on Gov. Katie Hobbs to cooperate with the legislature in their efforts to combat the crisis. However, he also stated that Hobbs is not off to a great start in this regard.
“Now, Governor Hobbs has stated that she agrees that this is a crisis, but her actions in gutting border-related funding to law enforcement, says otherwise. That’s unacceptable,” said Montenegro.
As for other focuses, State Senator T.J. Shope (R-Florance) also spoke briefly at the gathering, stating that another need is to address those who are addicted to fentanyl by providing better recovery and mental health services in the state.
Aside from state legislators, officials from out of state were also present, including former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director (ICE) Director Tom Homan. He said the crisis might only worsen if nothing is done to prevent it.
“Hold on tight because Arizona will be the new ground zero,” said Homan.
He said not only is the record amount of fentanyl coming over the border an issue, but so is the rampant human trafficking, encounters of people on the terror watch list, and countless gotaways. Additionally, he stated that because Texas has increased actions to secure the border, that will only drive more activity to Arizona.
“I’ve been around doing this for 35 years. When Texas starts shutting down and takes action on the border, where do you think those cartels are going to start moving people,” Homan said. “This happened before. In my day, it was California. Then it was Arizona. Then it was Texas. If you don’t think it’s coming back to Arizona, you better be ready.”
Following Homan came retired Captain from the Texas Department of Public Safety Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division Jaeson Jones. He stated that the cartels in Mexico gaining the power they have is the “largest U.S. intelligence failure since 9/11.” To raise awareness of the damage these cartels can do, Jones said his goal is to get these groups designated as foreign terrorist organizations.
“Another solution we’ve got to do is hit their [the cartel’s] labs and hit them right now with a sense of urgency. This is absolutely doable,” Jones said. “Don’t let anyone tell you that what we are dealing with is unfixable because it absolutely is.”
Jones concluded by saying one solution to this problem is getting rid of the “institutionalized cowardice” in the federal government, which is not going after cartel leadership.
Homan, Jones, and retired ICE special agent Victor Avila will speak again at a free event in Phoenix on Saturday, January 28th, to further discuss the border crisis in Arizona.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
2 Thoughts to “Arizona State Legislators and Guests Address Southern Border Crisis and Plans to Alleviate It at State Capitol”
Bless these leaders for standing together to work out solutions to protect citizens and those that human trafficking uses and to fight the drug cartels that ruin lives too!! Don’t have much faith in Hobbs a Democrat coming in to help. She’s no better than Harris.
Unfortunately, we now have aGov. (. not the brightest bulb in the house) who already is for open borders and any monies intended for immigration will only go in her rabbit-hole pockets ! So, we taxpayer are in for a long ride unless the Supreme Court does their rightful duty and calls for a redo election !