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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Guard troops sent to border

    PHOENIX – A fight between the governor and her rivals in the legislature whether she “”shall”” or “”may”” use the Arizona National Guard in a state of emergency has stalled plans to send troops to the border.

    Gov. Janet Napolitano signed an executive order yesterday sending more Arizona National Guard troops to the Mexican border, but the commitment of troops was contingent on funding from either the legislature or the federal government.

    Republican lawmakers in the Senate passed on a bill on Tuesday trying to force the governor to put more National Guard troops along the Mexican border. The House fast-tracked the bill, passing it in less than 24 hours after the Senate approved the measure.

    The bill gave the Democratic governor $10 million to pay for more troops along the border, but it came with strings attached. It required the governor to station more National Guard troops along the border to fight illegal immigration if she invoked specific language when declaring a state of emergency.

    The language of HB 2701 dictates that if the governor declares a state of emergency for the “”protection of the lives and property of citizens of this state resulting from an increase in unauthorized border crossings and the related increase in deaths, crime and property damage,”” she must call in the National Guard.

    Napolitano said in her press conference yesterday that the requirement forcing her to send in the National Guard violates the state Constitution. She said as the commander in chief of the National Guard, only she can give them orders, not the legislature.

    “”It mandates the use of the guard, and there is no need for that. I’ve already signed the executive order to send them there,”” Napolitano said.

    Napolitano said the Republican measure was only trying to “”score political points”” and promised to veto the bill.

    This is a shift in policy for Napolitano, who said in January that she wanted to use federal dollars to pay for the troops. Napolitano said her efforts to lobby to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for federal funds has failed to secure funding.

    House Speaker Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix, defended the bill, saying Napolitano’s last state of emergency at the border didn’t send “”one single person”” to the border, despite emergency funding. He said he was disappointed the governor spent an estimated $600,000 of the $1.7 million she was given.

    Rep. John Allen, R-Scottsdale, the author of the bill, refused to believe Napolitano would veto the measure.

    “”Its not unconstitutional,”” Allen said. “”I couldn’t imagine her not signing the bill.””

    If the funding of the National Guard can be worked out, it is unclear what role the Guard will play at the border. Napolitano outlined in her state of emergency declaration the role she wanted to see for the guard, which was mostly expanding their role assisting the border patrol. She said she wanted the Guard to staff border checkpoints, conduct vehicle checks and work with the Department of Public Safety to keep stolen vehicles from entering Mexico.

    Weiers said he would like the Guard to assume a role to stop illegal immigration by policing the border.

    Though HB 2701 had been approved by the House before 1 p.m. yesterday, the bill was not delivered to the governor for her signature.

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