STATE SEN. WARREN PETERSEN: In Arizona, The Border Crisis Is Real Life

Getty Images/John Moore

Font Size:

It’s frustrating watching politicians and pundits in Washington, D.C. discuss the border crisis like it’s a political game. 

For those of us who call Arizona home, it’s a real disaster that we’re forced to cope with on a daily basis.

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels serves a community situated on the front lines of this invasion. His calls for help from the federal government have fallen on deaf ears.

“I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of this border after four decades, and right now it’s the ugliest I’ve ever seen it,” the sheriff told a special joint session of our Arizona legislature recently. “I didn’t drive 180 miles to share my politics with you. I came to share a reality of a community, and what we’re dealing with on this border here in Cochise County.”

When the border is open, the overwhelming surge of people pouring in impacts everything in Arizona — public safety, our economy, schools, health care, our nonprofits and our churches. No sector of our state is left untouched by this invasion.

For years, we’ve watched the federal government neglect its duty to enforce immigration laws. We’ve watched the left try to divide Americans and make this about race, rather than security.

Under President Trump, there was finally progress — the wall was under construction, our law enforcement professionals felt supported, and the message was loud and clear that the border was closed.

Under Joe Biden, it has been an utter catastrophe — a complete open border. Early on, we watched as this administration refused to even call this a “crisis.” The result has been millions of people from all over the world illegally entering our nation from Mexico, some with terrible and dangerous motives. Whether it’s the flow of deadly drugs like fentanyl, which has devastated families, or heinous murders like the brutal killing of Laken Riley.

What makes all this even worse is that the open border policies of the Biden administration are now being embraced by our Arizona governor, Katie Hobbs. 

Encounters by the U.S. Border Patrol hit a record high of 250,000 in December of 2023. And in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott is rightly enhancing his state’s efforts to do the job the federal government won’t do and secure the border. Hobbs’ open borders approach means Arizona is now the gateway for those looking to break the law, enter our country, and do harm to our communities. 

Arizona legislators recently took steps to try to deal with this crisis, since D.C. and our governor seem to have their collective heads in the sand.

SB 1231, known as the Arizona Border Invasion Act, would have established in Arizona law three border-related crimes with subsequent punishments. Local, county, and state law enforcement officers would have been granted authority to arrest any non-U.S. citizens who enter Arizona from anywhere but a lawful entrance point. The law would have also allowed authorities to arrest those who have already been removed from our country or been denied entry, and those who have previously been ordered to leave but refuse to comply.

This is just common sense. Break the law, and you’ll face the consequences. We must give law enforcement professionals the tools to keep our communities, state, and nation safe.

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. The impacts of the open border touch everyone equally, no matter their party affiliation. But incredibly, every single Democrat in the state legislature voted against this legislation. And Gov. Hobbs — not surprisingly, given her horrible record on the border — vetoed it in ceremonial fashion.

This was the legislative equivalent of giving the middle finger to our border county sheriffs, our law enforcement professionals, and most of all, the citizens of Arizona.

Arizonans want solutions. They want the border closed and secured.

Clearly, that’s not going to happen as long as Joe Biden is in the White House. And in Arizona, it surely isn’t going to happen as long as Katie Hobbs is in the governor’s office.

Warren Petersen is President of the Arizona State Senate.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.