Arizona, New Mexico declare states of emergency

| 8/22/2005

The governors of both Arizona and New Mexico declared states of emergency along their borders in recent weeks in response to an increase in border crimes such as drug smuggling and human smuggling.

The move immediately made $750,000 in state emergency funds available to four counties along the border in New Mexico. Four communities in Arizona also got $1.5 million. Both governors have pledged to do more.

The scramble has left some pundits wondering whether California will be next. According to KXTV-Channel 10 in Sacramento, CA, state assemblyman Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, recently called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to make such a declaration for California.

“The timing is good,” Nunez said. “There’s an opportunity for three states to have a joint effort in lobbying the federal government.”

Meanwhile, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano said at a recent news conference that the federal government just isn’t doing enough – or providing enough money – to adequately secure the nation’s borders.

“As a state government, I must acknowledge our federal government is falling short,” she said.

The Sierra Vista Herald reported that Napolitano has joined forces with Sonora, Mexico’s, Gov. Eduardo Bours to step up enforcement along the border by using off-duty police from both sides.

Arizona received $1.5 million in federal funding when Napolitano declared a state of emergency in four border counties last week. The state is giving that money to the police departments in the cities of Nogales, Bisbee and San Luis as well as the Santa Cruz County sheriff’s department.

The money will be used to add a total of 13 officers for each duty shift. The officers will be regular officers who are working overtime in their off-duty hours. Those officers will be used to investigate border crimes such as drug trafficking, human smuggling, fraudulent ID cards and car theft.

The Herald also reported that Bours plans to set up checkpoints on four state highways south of the border in order to screen people heading north. Those checkpoints will also begin collecting names and fingerprints, which will be used to create a database of those who frequently travel to the border.