Border safety, trade are high on agenda for Republican governors

Gov. Doug Ducey reiterated his tough stance on border security at the Republican Governors Association convention in Scottsdale, but he also called the business relationship between Arizona and Mexico crucial to the state’s economy. (Photo by Celisse Jones/Cronkite News)

SCOTTSDALE – Gov. Doug Ducey maintained his firm stance on border security at a panel discussion Wednesday during the Republican Governors Association annual conference, but he also stressed the importance of the state’s extensive trade ties with Mexico.

“There is a humanitarian and security crisis happening south of the border,” said Ducey, who was sitting between Governor-elect Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The governor’s comments come at a time when tensions at the border are running high after a group of immigrants, part of the caravan of an estimated 5,000 migrants that has been stalled for weeks at the San Ysidro-Tijuana port of entry, tried to rush the border. In response, Customs and Border Patrol agents fired pepper bullets and tear gas into the crowd of dozens, which included women and children.

Ducey reiterated at the conference he is willing to work with Mexican law enforcement officials if a similar situation hypothetically happened at the border with Arizona.

“We’re still going to continue to focus on border security in the state of Arizona,” he said.

“When you talk about some of the negative things that are happening on the border, like I said, drug trafficking, human smuggling, child sex trafficking, this is the responsibility of the governor.”

Ducey also touched upon the business relationship between Arizona and Mexico, which he called crucial to the state’s economy.

“We can enforce public safety while building our trade relationship at the ports,” he said. “Trade, trucking, transits, tourism, the things that benefit both our states and both our countries, and we will continue to do that.”

“Mexico is our largest trading partner times four, and I am looking forward to flying down to Mexico City on Friday to be a part of the new president’s inauguration and maintaining the positive relationship we have with Mexico.”

Ducey’s concerns about safety were echoed by other border-state governors attending the two-day conference, including Greg Abbott of Texas.

“They expect the border to be secure and they are fed up with a country that has done an inadequate job at securing the border,” he said, referring to his constituents.

The conference served as the backdrop to discuss many of the issues making national headlines, including border security, trade and health care, while giving the Republican governors, staff, lobbyists and supporters a place to strategize and plan political futures.

According to the RGA’s website, the organization has one primary objective: electing and financially supporting Republican governors and candidates during their campaigns.

Case in point, the RGA contributed $8 million to Ducey’s 2018 re-election campaign, money spent primarily on attack ads against his Democratic opponent, David Garcia.

“Campaigns matter and the RGA was certainly a critical part of our campaign,” Ducey said. “If you look at the difference and success of Republican governors across the country, in red and blue states, you could see that the one unifying theme is the RGA.”

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