Governor Doug Ducey (R) said Monday that his last conversations with Vice President Joe Biden about border security stalled because the Democrat continued to show “disappointment” with the Trump administration, citing the unexpected surge of migrant children at the border.
“I can confirm that we did not get a response to our email, and that ended. We did not get a response,” Ducey told a local Phoenix television station. “Unfortunately it’s not a new mode of operation. It’s the mode of operation all the time. We’re dealing with the reactive mode on this.”
Ducey cited frustration with the lack of action from the Obama administration as a reason for his reluctance to meet with Biden, whom he described as “a good person” but “not a great communicator.” The governor continued: “So we don’t care about the communications.”
Biden declined to meet with Ducey in June, when it appeared that Congress had reached an agreement to avert a government shutdown with $1.6 billion for border fencing, according to Politico.
In an email to reporters last week, Ducey said he had “conversations with multiple dignitaries” at the time and had not been contacted by Biden, prompting speculation that the vice president wanted to meet with the Arizona governor before the looming spending negotiations.
As Ducey pursues opportunities to criticize the Trump administration’s border policies, he is also working with local political groups to promote his border security proposal.
The Trump administration’s hardline approach on immigration has prompted a renewed focus on border security in recent weeks, including a travel ban that aims to keep refugees and Syrian refugees out of the country and the detentions of hundreds of Central American migrants arriving on foot after journeying hundreds of miles through Mexico.
Ducey’s condemnation of Biden came on the heels of a speech he gave Friday to promote his proposal that increased spending on border security through measures such as building a wall along the entire southwestern border and hiring up to 10,000 additional border patrol agents.
In his speech, he hit President Donald Trump on his immigration policies, saying, “You do know that what the opposition is doing is going to be a victory for President Trump. The only thing that divides Republicans is that we can all have something different when it comes to border security.”
Ducey also expressed concern about the children who have entered the country illegally from the Central American country of El Salvador as well as from Honduras, arguing that Congress should increase funding for family detention centers and child welfare services. He said that he had fielded dozens of calls from private citizens seeking support for his proposal.
“We need a border,” he said. “It’s a safety issue. It’s a crisis.”
Trump’s position has been undercut by House Democrats, who voted last week to give migrant families migrant children caught crossing the border with their parents for a brief period of time. The bill, which passed overwhelmingly in the Democratic-controlled House, faces a similar fate in the Senate.
Before Ducey, a former astronaut, the person seen as the most vulnerable incumbent governor in the country last year was Wendy Davis, a Democrat running in Texas against incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Davis lagged in the polls following her unsuccessful effort in 2014 to become the nation’s first female governor.