By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter
Republican Kari Lake, who’s running to be Arizona’s next governor, believes Wyoming may be interested in paying for some of the border wall separating her state from Mexico.
When specifically asked by CBS News over the weekend if she believes Gov. Mark Gordon would be interested in helping pay for the wall, Lake said, “I think governors from other states would be interested in chipping in.”
“When we pay for this border wall, we protect people in South Carolina, Iowa, Idaho, Wyoming, every single state,” Lake said. “We think there is an appetite by Americans to build this wall and we think they’ll help pay for it.”
Up To The Legislature
Lake’s claim may have some legitimacy to it when it comes to Wyoming.
Michael Pearlman, a spokesman for Gordon, said the federal government has been derelict in enforcing border security, but it is the responsibility of the Wyoming Legislature to appropriate money.
“The governor continues to stand ready to assist his fellow border state governors,” he said.
A Question Of Security
Gordon has been taking action through appearances at the border and in pacts with other governors. In April, he joined 25 other Republican governors to create a Governor’s Border Strike Force.
“All of us are seeing an increase in drug trafficking related to the lack of border security,” Pearlman said.
In October 2021, Gordon joined other governors in Texas to call for policy changes at the U.S-Mexico border and promote their “Joint Policy Framework on the Border Crisis” to the Biden Administration.
This included calls to continue refusing entry to people coming into the country because of COVID-19, fully reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols established by former President Donald Trump’s administration that required asylum seekers to return to Mexico to await a court hearing and dedicate additional federal resources to eradicate human trafficking and drug trafficking.
During the trip, Gordon met with Texas Department of Public Safety officials and toured the Rio Grande by boat.
Wyoming Considered Helping In 2021
In 2021, Wyoming offered up to $250,000 in aerial assets to deploy in Arizona for addressing the border crisis. After further discussion, Gordon said it was determined that the assets would not precisely match the needs of a particularly requested border mission.
Although mineral revenues, a significant portion of the state’s budget, have declined in Wyoming over the last decade, they were up significantly in 2021. Gordon also still has $45 million in American Rescue Plan Act money to use at his discretion for future health emergencies.
State Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday afternoon that although he opposes the way the Biden administration is handling border security and would support providing money if his fellow legislators did as well, he also expressed skepticism that any Wyoming money would make a sizable difference in preventing illegal crossings at the border.
“Whether we gave $100,000 or $1 million I’m not sure it would make a big difference,” he said.
A future contribution of $250,000 would be a rather small drop in the bucket as far as what’s needed to complete the border wall, a hallmark of Trump’s 2016 presidential run and 2020 reelection bid.
Construction of the entire wall is estimated to cost $15 billion.
In January 2021, newly elected president Joe Biden terminated the national emergency that was being used as justification for financing the wall and halted its construction, canceling all border wall projects that were being paid for with funds diverted from U.S. Department of Defense accounts. By October of that year, several border wall construction contracts were canceled and, in some cases, land that was acquired by the government from private property owners returned to their owners.
The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security later hinted that construction of the wall may continue under Biden’s administration. In July, the Biden administration announced it would fill four wide gaps in the wall near Yuma, Arizona, an area with some of the busiest corridors for illegal crossings.
A March 2021 review of the wall found only 47 miles of new barriers where none had previously existed. Although Trump described the new wall as “virtually impenetrable,” MSNBC reported smugglers had been able to get through the wall using cheap power tools. Also, new dirt roads that had been used to access the wall construction served as new access roads for smugglers.
Carla Provost, chief of U.S. border patrol, spoke in favor of the wall in 2019, while admitting it is not a flawless solution.
“We already have many miles, over 600 miles (970 km) of barrier along the border,” she told The Hill. “I have been in locations where there was no barrier, and then I was there when we put it up. It certainly helps. It’s not a be-all end-all. It’s a part of a system. We need the technology; we need that infrastructure”
Arizona Gov. Greg Ducey has continued Trump’s efforts, installing shipping containers to fill gaps in the wall in recent weeks.