Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and 24 of their peers on Tuesday launched the American Governors' Border Strike Force, aimed at grappling with a deepening illegal migration crisis at the southern border under the Biden administration.
A news release announcing the new group came a day after a March report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection; that report noted the highest level of migrant southern border crossings in more than two decades: a robust 221,303.
The American Governors' Border Strike Force is in some ways modeled on a more narrowly focused Arizona Border Strike Force. Since the inception of the Arizona group in 2015, officials have seized "985 pounds of fentanyl, 13,100 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,704 pounds of cocaine and 801 pounds of heroin.
The new multistate task force's members will share intelligence, strengthen cybersecurity, and improve efforts to keep children and families safe, determined to "fill the void" created by federal inaction, said multiple reports on the group.
"What we're doing in Arizona works," Ducey said. "But this is not just an Arizona issue, it's a national issue. If our entire southern border isn't secure, our nation isn't secure. As dangerous transnational criminal organizations continue to profit from holes in the border and fill our communities with drugs, it's no coincidence that we're seeing historic levels of opioid-related deaths.
"The American Governors' Border Strike Force will serve as a force multiplier in the fight against criminal activity directly tied to our border. My thanks to my fellow governors who saw the problem and chose to be part of the solution."
The announcement also comes at a critical time in efforts to rein in illegal migration at the border; indeed, the Biden administration is preparing to lift Title 42, seen by advocates of the Trump-era measure as an important key managing the southern border and maintaining some degree of control. It grants the government the authority to prohibit entry on public health grounds, as in the coronavirus pandemic.
Almost since it was invoked via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, critics have questioned its use, dubbing it unjustified and anti-immigrant. However, the lifting date, scheduled for May 23, has been met with a growing chorus of criticisms; as recently as Tuesday, some 10 Democrat lawmakers indicated they'd be joining their GOP counterparts in pressing Biden to scrap plans to lift Title 42.
The task force press release mentions that states joining Arizona and Texas in the effort include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
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