Mike Pence calls border security an 'American crisis' during Arizona visit

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Former Vice President Mike Pence addressed border security issues on Monday in Cochise County and in Phoenix.

Pence, a possible 2024 Republican presidential candidate, said he wanted to call national attention to issues at the Mexico border, calling the situation an "American crisis." He said the Biden administration has not been doing enough to secure the border.

At a news conference on the Coronado National Memorial, overlooking a portion of unfinished border wall just south of Sierra Vista, Pence spoke to local law enforcement officials and longtime ranchers with land in the area. Later Monday, Pence delivered a border policy speech to about 100 people at the Arizona Commerce Authority in Phoenix.

"We have a crisis that is deeply troubling to millions of Americans. I'm here because I wanted to see firsthand what was happening on the ground," Pence said at the news conference.

Pence called on the Biden administration and Democrats to increase efforts to secure the border.

"I want people to have hope, but it's going to require that we elect men and women around the country who understand that border security is national security," Pence said.

Pence claimed the Trump administration "succeeded in ending the border crisis" through policies and beginning construction of the border wall.

Mike Pence speaking to rancher John Ladd at the Coronado State Monument on June 13, 2022, in Cochise County.
Mike Pence speaking to rancher John Ladd at the Coronado State Monument on June 13, 2022, in Cochise County.

Some of those policies he said included ending a practice through which certain immigrants are apprehended and released from Department of Homeland Security custody pending their immigration court proceedings

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The Trump administration enacted Title 42, a pandemic-era border health policy that allows U.S. authorities to stop the entry of migrants at the border, and the Migrant Protection Protocols, the controversial "Remain in Mexico" policy that allowed U.S. authorities to send asylum seekers to Mexico as they await the outcome of their proceedings.

"This is not an Arizona problem. This is an American problem," Pence said about the situation at the border.

Pence blamed the Biden administration for the "crisis on our southern border that is unprecedented."

John Ladd, a fourth generation rancher who was at the news conference, said he has seen an increase of people crossing the border on his land, which is adjacent to the border.

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks on issues facing the southern border and calls for the completion of the border wall at the Arizona Commerce Authority in Phoenix on June 13, 2022.
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks on issues facing the southern border and calls for the completion of the border wall at the Arizona Commerce Authority in Phoenix on June 13, 2022.

Ladd told The Arizona Republic that law enforcement was apprehending just five or six people per week crossing the border on his 16,000-acre plot of land when Trump was president.

"That was pretty consistent the four years of Trump and then all of a sudden it picked back up," Ladd said.

Earlier Monday morning, Pence was briefed by the Cochise County Sheriff's Office at Cochise College in Sierra Vista, which media was not allowed to attend.

During opening remarks, Pence was introduced by Tim Roemer, director of the Arizona Department of Homeland Security.

Roemer lamented the politicization of border issues when people are dying at the border.

"People are dying. This should not be a political issue in Washington. Migrants are dying, people are dying in human smuggling. People are being murdered through human smuggling," Roemer said. "This needs the attention of Washington."

At his afternoon Phoenix appearance, Pence said "help is on his way" to solve the border crisis.

He argued for various immigration policies, including finishing the border wall; banning sanctuary cities; ending asylum fraud by demanding Congress and Mexico reinstating the "Remain in Mexico" policy; keeping Title 42 in place during the COVID-19 pandemic; ending family migration for all but the nuclear family; and instituting a merit-based system.

"They’re also coming because somewhere between the lines they’re being invited. And having been in invited, they’re being exploited," Pence said.

Pence also applauded Gov. Doug Ducey for spending state tax dollars on protecting the border, but said that these efforts are not a cost Arizona should bear.

“Border security is not the responsibility of the state of Arizona," Pence said. "It is the responsibility of the United States of America.”

Ducey, a longtime friend and ally of Pence's, had been expected to join Pence in Arizona, but stayed away from the events after testing positive for COVID-19.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Mike Pence calls border issues an 'American crisis' during AZ visit