PHOENIX—Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano declared an emergency Monday in four border counties because of problems related to illegal immigration and moved to provide local governments in those counties with up to $1.5 million in state funding.
Napolitano’s order said failure by the federal government to secure the border allowed a flood of illegal immigration that threatened public health and safety, “thereby necessitating immediate action by the state . . . to aid its border counties.”
Napolitano’s order directly released $200,000 from the state’s emergency fund for disasters while her emergency council released an additional $1.3 million, spokeswoman Jeanine L’Ecuyer said.
The money is intended for use by counties and municipalities for a variety of purposes, including overtime pay for law enforcement officers, repairs of border fences, costs related to illegal immigrants’ deaths, L’Ecuyer said.
Napolitano’s action followed by three days a similar declaration by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
Arizona is the nation’s busiest entry point for illegal border-crossings, and illegal immigration has emerged as a significant political issue.
Crimes and other problems associated with the border include illegal immigration, vehicle thefts, drug smuggling and property damage.