January 29, 2023

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, Democratic, told reporters last week she will continue the program under her Republican predecessor, Doug Ducey, to bus migrants out of the state — but in a more humane and efficient way.

On Tuesday, Hobbs defended her decision to keep the program, telling The Arizona Sun her administration will focus on ensuring that the state’s continued payment of migrants’ travel expenses is “efficient and humane.”

Arizona's then Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Katie Hobbs, holds a campaign event at the 1912 Carpenters Local Union headquarters on November 5, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Arizona’s then Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Katie Hobbs, holds a campaign event at the 1912 Carpenters Local Union headquarters on November 5, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona.
(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“We just wanted to make sure we were tackling this problem and doing it in a way that made the best use of taxpayer resources and wasn’t a political stunt,” Hobbs newspaper said.

Then-Gov. Ducey began moving migrants out of Arizona in May. The program was later expanded to include the option of chartered air travel aboard a 737 aircraft, according to a state treaty signed Jan. 14.

During Ducey’s tenure, more than 3,000 people were bused from the Yuma, Arizona area to the nation’s capital at a total cost of more than $7 million. The Republican legislature allocated $15 million to the program last year. The border has experienced an historic crisis under President Biden, with records for illegal border crossings being broken month after month.

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Hobbs, who took office earlier this month, told reporters last week: “We need to look at this practice and make sure it’s effective. [that] it’s something that supports local communities.”

“If we’re going to spend the money busing people, why not just take them to their final destination?” she said.

Shipping containers and vehicle barriers line the U.S.-Mexico border at the Coronado National Memorial in Cochise County, Arizona, USA on Sunday, December 11, 2022.

Shipping containers and vehicle barriers line the U.S.-Mexico border at the Coronado National Memorial in Cochise County, Arizona, USA on Sunday, December 11, 2022.
(Rebecca Noble/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Hobbs told The Arizona Republic their focus would differ from the actions of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, both of whom have transported migrants to Democratic-run cities to blame the Biden administration’s handling of the southern border .

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“We’re interested in focusing on the humanitarian aspects, and just putting people on a bus and sending them to Martha’s Vineyard or wherever as a political stunt doesn’t offer any help or a solution to the real problem,” Hobbs said .

Democratic Mayor of Washington, DC, Muriel Bowser last year declared a public emergency related to the transportation of migrants to the nation’s capital. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, also a Democrat, recently visited the border in El Paso, Texas, and declared that there was no longer a place for illegal migrants in the city. Adams urged the federal government to resolve the crisis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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