June 4, 2023

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, says the Biden administration has created uncertainty for border-state governors by leaving them to develop their own plans to cope with the expiration of Title 42, the pandemic-era health policy that has been used to expel migrants at the southern border.

“There’s a lot of frustration across the board that Washington isn’t doing enough and taking this seriously enough,” Hobbs told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on “The Takeout.” “Our biggest concern really is the influx of folks and not having the capacity to deal with them.”

Hobbs appeared on “The Takeout” as part of the McCain Institute’s 10th annual Sedona Forum. The interview was conducted May 5, as Hobbs was preparing for the expiration Thursday of Title 42, which has made it possible for the U.S. to turn away hundreds of thousands of migrants without processing their asylum claims. Hobbs said she has been consulting with state officials “daily.”

“I am confident in our preparedness to meet this challenge,” Hobbs said. “But we’re doing this largely without support from the federal government.”

Hobbs outlined her 5-point plan to prepare for more migrants seeking asylum after Title 42 lapses. As of Thursday, Customs and Border Patrol had processed more than 10,000 migrants each day across the southern border — a new record for a 24-hour period, a senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official told CBS News. On Wednesday, according to available data, more than 20,000 migrants were in Border Patrol custody.

Hobbs said she has spoken to President Biden about immigration concerns “in the last few weeks.” She has had no conversations about immigration, she said, with Vice President Harris, the administration leader on policy trying to reduce migration from Central America.

“We’ve given them the message,” Hobbs said, referring to the Biden administration. “We would like them to act more urgently. I think the federal government is unprepared for the lifting of this policy.”

Asked about Mr. Biden’s reelection campaign, Hobbs said she’s “focused” on state matters.

“I haven’t weighed in on the presidential election yet,” Hobbs said. “I think things like the CHIPS Act, Inflation Reduction Act…are great for Arizona, and I’m excited about the kinds of things that he’s delivering.”

Hobbs said she has no concerns about the health of regional banks in the West but is nervous about a coming recession.

“I think economists are more optimistic than folks on the ground,” Hobbs said. She believes “a recession is more likely than the economists are projecting.”

On abortion, Hobbs said Arizona, like many states, has seen access dramatically restricted since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“There should be federal protection for abortion,” Hobbs said. “I don’t want to say codify Roe, because there’s other things that need to happen.”

Abortion in Arizona is prohibited after 15 weeks. A full ban, passed as a territorial law, is being challenged in federal court.

“What I’d like to see for Arizona is a repeal of that full territorial ban and then movement towards less restrictive ban than 15 weeks,” Hobbs said. “Quite honestly, abortion is a conversation between a woman and her doctor, and there are times where there’s not any restriction that is going to fit this specific situation that someone’s in that many of us will never know the circumstances or understand the circumstances of a someone having to make that decision about a late term termination. And certainly a 15-week ban doesn’t allow for that kind of situation.”

Hobbs predicted she would reach a budget deal with Arizona’s Republican-led legislature, something she achieved earlier this week. The budget, which drew criticism from some Democrats, did not shrink allotments of school vouchers — despite Hobbs’ opposition to them and her prediction that universal vouchers, engineered by her Republican predecessor, former Gov. Doug Ducey, would threaten state finances.

“We are draining resources with our universal voucher expansion in Arizona,” Hobbs said. “Many budget analysts have looked at our program and said it’s going to bankrupt the state.”

Executive producer: Arden Farhi

Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson

CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin 
Show email: [email protected]
Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast
Facebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcast

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