Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey softened his stance on a possible U.S.-Mexico border closure after meeting with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying he would support Trump if he opted for a shutdown but hoped any closure would be “as short as possible.”
The Oval Office meeting came two days after Ducey had said he “of course” did not want to see the border close. He’d pointed to Mexico’s status as “our No. 1 trading partner, times four” and said he wanted “to see us continue to be able to trade,” confirming that the White House was aware of his position.
Ducey again called trade with Mexico “incredibly important” after his Wednesday discussion with Trump.
“But, border security comes first,” he told reporters in Washington, D.C.
The governor indicated the president had not made a final decision regarding a border closure, despite multiple threats to do so over the last week. On Twitter and in conversations with reporters, Trump had repeatedly said Mexico needed to help block the recent swell of migrant families at the border or face the consequences.
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The Trump administration has begun releasing families from custody as processing centers struggle to handle the uptick.
“I think the president is going to keep all his options on the table,” Ducey said. “The final decision is going to be his.”
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Apprehensions at the southern border had hit historic lows before the latest surge: Agents caught fewer than 400,000 migrants in 2018, versus the more than 1 million detained annually through the 1990s and 2000s.
Projections for this year were not immediately available.
“As a border governor, we see this clearer than nearly anywhere — what’s happening from both a humanitarian standpoint and a security standpoint on our border,” Ducey said Wednesday in Washington.
“Our non-profits are overwhelmed and reaching the breaking point, and with summer coming very soon in Arizona and the temperatures rising, I’m concerned that any migrant that crosses the border can be in real danger.”
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The governor again called for Congress to act on both fronts, mentioning strategies from “a physical barrier” to “technology and surveillance.”
“There are resources that are needed,” he said.
Ducey also spoke with Trump about the importance of passing the proposed trade deal with Canada and Mexico, according to his office, as well as “efforts to grow Arizona’s economy and workforce development.”
He and his wife, Angela Ducey, were scheduled to meet with Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, on Thursday regarding childcare and other workforce issues.
The governor was also expected to speak Thursday with the state’s U.S. senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally, about the trade agreement and a drought contingency plan, his office said.
USA Today reporter David Jackson contributed to this article.
Follow Maria Polletta on Twitter: @mpolletta.