Here's the difference between Hobbs and Ducey busing migrants out of Arizona

Katie Hobbs shakes hands with Doug Ducey at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on Dec. 5, 2022.
Katie Hobbs shakes hands with Doug Ducey at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on Dec. 5, 2022.
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Let’s be honest. Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs isn’t doing much different than her Republican predecessor in busing migrants out of the state.

So, why is she suddenly getting kudos from some of the same people who condemned former Gov. Doug Ducey for doing practically the same thing?

Their intent.

Former Gov. Doug Ducey didn’t spend taxpayers’ dollars out of the goodness of his heart to help asylum seekers. He did it to make a political point against Democrats.

Ducey's intent was to stick it to Democrats

Don’t take my word for it. The former governor repeatedly made his intent clear.

“The only trick that’s being played on asylum seekers comes from the Biden Administration, which with their open border policy, has sent every possible signal to migrants to ’head north,’ ” Ducey said on Twitter in July.

In that tweet, Ducey was reacting to the mayor of Washington, D.C., who was complaining that homeless shelters were filling up with asylum seekers being dumped from Texas and Arizona.

Another view:Busing is OK for Hobbs but not Ducey?

Ducey and fellow Republican governors in Texas and Florida never hid their intent of sticking it to the Democrats and blaming them for “open borders” during the contested midterm election.

It was no coincidence that they chose to send migrants to Democratic-run cities like D.C., New York, Chicago – and Martha’s Vineyard, the posh vacationing spot of the rich and famous, including former President Barack Obama.

Ducey, to his credit, never tricked migrants

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Martha’s Vineyard stunt was the most blatant political maneuver. The refugees, some of whom said they were “tricked,” had no idea where they were flying.

Ducey did not do that. His program was by many accounts more orderly and organized with the help of Amanda Aguirre, a former Democratic state lawmaker running a regional center near Yuma.

Ducey didn’t “trick” the migrants. More than 3,000 voluntarily boarded buses to D.C. at a cost of more than $7 million.

Hobbs is earmarking $15 million for that purpose, but her approach, she says, is humanitarian. Presumably, that means the intent isn’t to score political points but to actually help the refugees and border towns overwhelmed by the sheer number being released.

Hobbs' earlier criticism adds fuel to the fire

Does intent really matter to the migrants who desperately need help? Yes and no.

It doesn’t matter if they get the help they want – and need. But it does matter when they’re tricked into going to undisclosed locations.

By all accounts, those who boarded the buses under Ducey did so voluntarily, but they were limited to the nation’s capital, which wasn’t necessarily their final destination. That’s supposed to change under Hobbs, though the practical details are still scant.

Hobbs:Paying migrants' travel is 'efficient and humane'

Again, migrants are caught between never-ending power-grab fights.

Hobbs’ move underscores the migrant crisis playing out along the U.S.-Mexico border and the political atmosphere that overshadows cooperation to tackle a real and dangerous challenge.

Her earlier criticism of Ducey’s plan during the campaign adds fuel to the fire, prompting her opponents to characterize her and immigrant advocates as hypocritical.

That’s the ugly part of politics where each faction retreats to its tribe with narratives designed to appeal to the most extreme, instead of acknowledging the problem and tackling it together.

Hobbs has the right intent. How will she use it?

Ducey wasn’t wrong to sound the alarm over border crossers and the burden asylum seekers put on local communities. The border patrol has encountered millions during the past two years as desperate people from poor and violent-ridden countries flee in droves.

But intent, rhetoric and approach on handling that crisis matter.

Ducey may have had good intentions to help border communities, but his rhetoric on the border wall and busing migrants was about sticking it to Democrats.

The migration calamity at our southern border is a global phenomenon getting worse. It requires honest and serious discussions – not just soundbites or 30-second political television ads.

That’s on all of us – politicians, immigrant advocates and the media.

Hobbs has the right intent to keep Ducey’s program. She now must also be ready and willing to work with Republicans who clamor for border security. The question is whether Republicans want to work with her.

Either way, the border with Mexico isn’t going anywhere. We’re only hurting ourselves by using it as political football instead of accepting it as part of Arizona’s history – an inescapable link that requires bipartisan cooperation.

Elvia Díaz is editorial page editor for The Arizona Republic and azcentral. Reach her at 602-444-8606 or Follow her on Twitter, @elviadiaz1

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Gov. Katie Hobbs, not Doug Ducey, can bus migrants, for 1 reason