JANET NAPOLITANO is the governor of Arizona.

THERE IS A REAL EMERGENCY at the Arizona-Mexico border. Law enforcement and other county and city entities have been pleading for assistance, and I could not wait any longer for the federal government to do its job. That’s why I declared a state of emergency in Arizona last week. It allows us to allocate more state money to much-needed border enforcement.

Arizona’s border with Mexico is in drastic need of federal attention, but the federal government has done little to shore it up. As a result, criminality is alive and well along the border, preying upon Arizonans as well as the people desperate to get into the United States.

Day in and day out, law enforcement officers in the four counties on the border -- Cochise, Santa Cruz, Pima and Yuma -- are stretched thin. Each day, officers in Nogales, Douglas and other border cities battle crimes involving violent human trafficking and the illegal drug trade. Property damage is rampant; burglaries and robberies are on the rise. The harm is not just to residents; last year, at least 172 people died in the Southwestern desert looking for a better way of life. This year is worse: It’s only August, and more than 200 individuals have lost their lives.

Illegal immigration contributes to the astronomical number of auto thefts in our state -- about 10% of the stolen vehicles confiscated in Arizona are seized at the border, and most of those seizures are related to human smuggling.


Our state accounts for about half of all illegal immigrant apprehensions in the country. Many of the human traffickers have little regard for their “customers.”

Enough is enough. States must now do what they can where the federal government won’t.

We in Arizona are working jointly with our neighbor state to the south, Sonora, on a plan to improve security at the border. Sonora is in the same situation as Arizona -- it bears the brunt of Mexico’s emigrants to the north, most of whom are not residents of Sonora. Gov. Eduardo Bours and I -- two state governors from different countries -- are working together in an unprecedented way, trying to create a safe border for legal international commerce and tourism. I have created state task forces to focus on crimes linked to illegal immigration: auto theft and document fraud.

I hope the state of emergency declaration draws Washington’s attention. Arizonans have paid dearly, and we have waited long enough.