Most Arizonans know that illegal border crossings have been increasing steadily since the election of 2020, but hard data lends perspective to the negative impact these crossings have on our communities.
As a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, I would like to summarize and share critical information with my constituents and provide my recommendations for mitigating the damage caused by the Biden Administration’s policy failures:
• In May of 2020, and before Biden took office, U.S. Border Patrol and the Office of Field Operations reported a total of 23,237 individual encounters along the southern border. By May of 2021, these encounters had risen to 180,597. They rose again in May of 2022 to 239,416, an increase of 1,030% from 2020 and the highest number ever reported.
• In fiscal year 2020, a total of 458,088 encounters were reported. In fiscal year 2021 a total of 1,734,686 encounters were reported, a 379% increase over a one year period.
• With 4 months still remaining in the 2022 fiscal year, 1,536,899 encounters have already been reported. Over the same 8 month period in 2021, reported encounters were at 930,218, according to U.S. Border and Customs Protection.
• These statistics do not include the individuals who evaded Border Patrol and successfully entered the U.S. For fiscal year 2021, these “got aways” exceeded 400,000 individuals, and for the first 8 months of this fiscal year the “got aways" topped 440,000, according to Federation for American Immigration Reform.
• The individuals crossing the border illegally in 2021 and 2022 would replace the entire Phoenix population, not just once, but more than twice. Phoenix’s population is 1,759,940.
The Biden Administration enacted a deliberate immigration policy that is overwhelming border patrol and leaving the border states to manage the tragic fallout. This fallout includes:
• Fentanyl overdose becoming the leading cause of death for teenagers in Pima County, and nationally, the leading cause of death for adults 18-45 years old.
• The expansion of sex and drug trafficking.
• The apprehension of 50 known or suspected terrorists. The number escaping detection is unknown, making every American community vulnerable to unexpected attack.
• Assaults on border patrol agents as well as private citizens.
• Crimes ranging from petty theft and property damage to vehicle theft, sexual assault, robbery, smuggling, kidnapping and homicide.
• Additional financial burdens placed on taxpayers who are already struggling because of the economic downturn.
• Strained state resources including our law enforcement, health care systems, and K-12 education.
I have been actively pursuing solutions to these problems, and as a member of the House Health and Human Services Committee, I’ve learned a great deal about the drug crisis from expert testimony. I’ve also met with house leadership, several legislators, and Arizona sheriffs to identify the best course of action for our state to pursue. As we finalize the state budget, discussions are ongoing; I believe all options should be on the table for protecting Arizonans. These include:
• Increasing funding for the Arizona sheriffs and local law enforcement;
• Increasing funding for the Arizona National Guard;
• Completing unfinished sections of the Arizona border wall as permissible.
Because of the hardship and heartbreak the border crisis is causing Arizona families, it is a vitally important issue affecting all of us.
During my meeting with the Arizona sheriffs, an officer made a comment that reflects my own experience: “If you don’t already know someone who has died from a fentanyl overdose, you will.”
And as always, please contact my legislative office if you need assistance with any issue involving a state agency.
Editor's note: Beverly Pingerelli is a Republican primary candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives for Leglislative District 28.