Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano has declared a state of emergency along Arizona’s border with Mexico, freeing up $1.5 million in disaster funds to help border counties combat illegal immigration and drug smuggling, reports the Arizona Republic. Napolitano criticized the federal government for “moving too slow” on border security. Napolitano acted three days after New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson issued a similar declaration, complaining that the federal government has failed to stem growing smuggling-related violence. Both governors are Democrats.
The long-running battle over securing the U.S.-Mexican border is expected to be a key issue in next year’s midterm elections, both nationally and at the state level. Arizona border counties may for state money for a wide range of costs, from repairing border fences to paying for overtime for local law enforcement agencies dealing with smuggling-related crime.