AG Brnovich: Arizona Can Defend Itself From Southern Border ‘Invasion’

AG Brnovich: Arizona Can Defend Itself From Southern Border ‘Invasion’
A Border Patrol agent organizes illegal immigrants who have gathered by the border fence after crossing from Mexico into the United States in Yuma, Arizona, on Dec. 10 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Charlotte Cuthbertson
Updated:
Arizona and other border states have the constitutional right to defend themselves from the current “invasion” at the southern border, according to a Feb. 7 legal opinion published by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

“The on-the-ground violence and lawlessness at Arizona’s border caused by cartels and gangs is extensive, well-documented, and persistent. It can satisfy the definition of ‘actually invaded’ and ‘invasion’ under the U.S. Constitution,” the opinion reads. “The federal government is failing to fulfill its duty under Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution to defend the States from invasion. The State Self-Defense Clause exists precisely for situations such as the present, to ensure that States are not left helpless.”

As commander-in-chief for Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey has the power to “engage in defensive actions within its own territory at or near its border,” according to Brnovich. The governor has the power to use the National Guard and militia forces.

Ducey didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

Much of Arizona’s border terrain is remote, inadequately fenced, and unpatrolled. It’s rife with drug and human smuggling, and thousands of unknown and unvetted illegal aliens evade law enforcement every month.

The state has experienced a colossal increase in Border Patrol apprehensions in the past year. In 2020, agents apprehended almost 91,000 illegal aliens entering Arizona. In 2021, that number jumped to almost 399,000.

In mid-December 2021, law enforcement authorities seized a record 1.7 million fentanyl pills in Scottsdale, Arizona.
L–R: Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, and Cheri Oz, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Phoenix Field Division, at a press conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Dec. 16, 2021. (Scottsdale PD)
L–R: Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, and Cheri Oz, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Phoenix Field Division, at a press conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Dec. 16, 2021. (Scottsdale PD)

4 Agents Cover 150 Miles

Border Patrol agents are so busy processing large groups of illegal aliens that, in Arizona’s Yuma sector, only four agents are available to patrol a 150-mile section of the border.
“That 150 miles of border normally takes about 75 to 90 agents—we had four agents out there,” Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said at an unofficial House hearing at FreedomWorks in Washington on Feb. 1.
The city of Yuma declared an emergency on Dec. 9, 2021, after unprecedented numbers of illegal aliens began pouring across the border from Mexico around the unfinished border wall. Some of them got tired of waiting by the border fence to be picked up by Border Patrol, so they walked into the city.

In early December 2021, when the latest influx started, the 911 dispatch center was tied up for hours with calls from illegal aliens asking for transport, food, and clothing, Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot told The Epoch Times.

About 300 illegal immigrants were arriving at the hospital every day, he said—not for medical assistance—but to request transport and supplies. Others wandered around looking for the Border Patrol station.

Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot in his office in Yuma, Ariz., on Dec. 10, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot in his office in Yuma, Ariz., on Dec. 10, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

‘Invasion’

Brnovich’s opinion centers around the definitions of “actually invaded” and “invasion” and whether the federal government has abdicated its duty to protect.

Brnovich said the Biden administration has taken “unprecedented actions ... to destroy operational control of the border.”

He listed examples such as the rescission of the Migrant Protection Protocols, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants being released into the United States with court dates scheduled years down the road. He also mentioned the halt of border wall construction, the closure of Border Patrol highway checkpoints, and the narrowing of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers’ ability to execute the law.

House Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Ariz.) who submitted the initial request for a formal legal opinion, said he’s happy with Brnovich’s “groundbreaking” opinion and now wants Ducey to utilize the state’s powers “to end the invasion and secure our border.”

“You would normally expect an invasion would mean a nation-state invasion. But there is long-standing precedent that an invasion can be more than just a nation-state invasion,” Hoffman told 550 KFYI on Feb. 8. “We shouldn’t be the welcome wagon. For these folks that are coming across the border illegally, we should be picking them up and throwing them back across the border, sending them back where they came from.”
Illegal immigrants who have gathered by the border wall prepare to board a bus going to the Border Patrol station for processing in Yuma, Ariz., on Dec. 10, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Illegal immigrants who have gathered by the border wall prepare to board a bus going to the Border Patrol station for processing in Yuma, Ariz., on Dec. 10, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Not Seeking Asylum

In Cochise County, Sheriff Mark Dannels deals with illegal aliens that are evading law enforcement. His county sits in southeastern Arizona and shares 83 miles of remote desert land with Mexico.
Dannels said his office currently tracks between 900 and 1,000 smuggling vehicles in the county every month—a massive increase that began escalating at the start of President Joe Biden’s tenure.

Drivers are being paid about $1,000 per illegal alien that they smuggle—usually to Phoenix, which is used as a hub to travel to other cities throughout the United States.

“It’s like the cartel Uber. They just stage in public places all along the roadways waiting to get called up to go pick them up,” Dannels said.

Detective Jake Kartchner with the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office border unit stands at the U.S.–Mexico border fence that was slated to be replaced with a 30-foot fence before President Joe Biden halted all border wall construction in January 2021, in Cochise County, Ariz., on Dec. 6, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Detective Jake Kartchner with the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office border unit stands at the U.S.–Mexico border fence that was slated to be replaced with a 30-foot fence before President Joe Biden halted all border wall construction in January 2021, in Cochise County, Ariz., on Dec. 6, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Recently, the Sinaloa Cartel put a hit out on two of Dannels’s top border guys.

“We had real good information ... from a federal agency that said there were two guys that were going to cross and they were going to kill one of us,” Cochise County Detective Jake Kartchner told The Epoch Times. “We never knew which one of us it was.”

He said a breakdown in communication between the sheriff’s office and federal agencies allowed the men to evade authorities.

Local border ranchers such as John Ladd are bracing for the worst, as hundreds of illegal aliens traverse their land.

“We’ve got a gun at every door in the house,” Ladd told The Epoch Times recently.
Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter with The Epoch Times who primarily covers border security and the opioid crisis.
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