Ducey disapproves of Trump’s new green card policy, raids that don’t prioritize ‘bad guys’

Gov. Doug Ducey speaks with a rancher on Arizona's southern border. Photo by Doug Ducey's campaign | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Gov. Doug Ducey took issue with President Donald Trump’s new policy of limiting green cards for poorer immigrants.

The Trump administration on Monday announced a new policy that, beginning on Oct. 15, will allow immigration officials to deny green cards and permanent legal status to legal immigrants if the government believes they’re likely to require assistance such as food stamps, Medicaid and housing subsidies.

The new policy will likely favor more highly skilled and highly educated immigrants.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Ducey said he favored a more balanced approach that continued to leave the door open for all kinds of immigrants, not only those who are educated and skilled. He called legal immigration “one of the magical things about our country and our economy.”

“I don’t know all the details of the reform, but like I said, I want to see a balanced approach. So, it can’t just be about people at the top. It’s got to also be about service workers and entry-level workers,” Ducey said. “I want to see people who will climb the economic ladder. I think that many of us have a family story similar to that. We have the haves and the soon-to-haves. And both of them are part of the proper immigration reform.”

In his moves to crack down on both legal and illegal immigration, Trump has touted the need for a more merit-based immigration system. In 2018, he famously questioned why the United States admitted so many immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti and various African nations. 

Ducey also took issue with a recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid that targeted six agricultural plants in Mississippi. The Aug. 7 raids led to the arrests of 680 immigrants who were in the country illegally, and was the largest single-state raid in U.S. history.

While emphasizing that he wants people to follow immigration laws and lauding Trump’s focus on border security, Ducey said immigration authorities should focus primarily on criminals, not people working to support their families. 

“I’d like to see us prioritize criminals, drug cartels, human traffickers, child sex traffickers. I think that would be the best use of federal law enforcement and state and local law enforcement,” the governor said. “What I’d like to see in terms of raids and law enforcement is a prioritization of the bad guys.”

Ducey said he wants to see federal immigration reform and expressed hope that Congress will take action on the issue.

In the wake of the Mississippi raids, many critics have questioned why immigration laws are being vigorously enforced against low-income workers but not on the employers who hire undocumented labor.

Asked whether there should be more enforcement against companies that hire illegal immigrants, Ducey noted that Arizona requires employers to use the federal E-Verify system, which allows people to check whether a job applicant is legally permitted to work in the U.S. 

“At the same time, I don’t know that an employer has to be an expert in immigration law. If somebody wants to work, you should have the ability to hire them,” he said. 

On the campaign trail and in office, Ducey was critical of President Barack Obama for what he deemed lax border security. But he also came into office in 2015 vowing to improve Arizona’s relations with Mexico, who had been frayed since the state in 2010 enacted Senate Bill 1070, which mandated local enforcement of federal immigration laws. 

The governor has focused his immigration policy more on border security than on street-level enforcement against people who were in the country illegally, particularly with the creation of a Border Strike Force within the Arizona Department of Public Safety. 

Ducey has been outspoken in his support for some of Trump’s border security initiatives, including his long-promised wall along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border, and even backed the president in his threat to close off the border, despite the economic damage such a move would likely inflict on Arizona. 

Ducey also supported Trump’s deployment of National Guard troops along the border.

Jeremy Duda
Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”


  1. The Trump administration policies have been a nightmare. All people renewing their Green Cards have been extended — in the meantime, this means problems with driver’s licenses, etc. and many of the immigrant community, which is quite large in Tucson, are worried. I appreciate the Governor’s comments, but we need people in Washington who will deal with the real problem and not base-pleasing rhetoric and decree by twitter. We have a militarized border that is causing deaths, and severe problems in our foreign relations problems that cause the root problem in Central America.

  2. What all of you ,
    Meaning, the Governor, Congress,
    And Senate, fail to realize that the,
    Many of the working
    Class ,immigrants,are
    Here, with fraudulent green cards , they are landscapers, service workers etc.
    They are facilitating
    Illegal, immigration, but harboring, ILLEGALS this needs to be addressed as does this states easy access to , Medicaid,aka acchs
    Welfare, and food stamps, people should not be allowed to receive any of our tax payers
    Benifits till living n as at least 1-2 years it will save our state at least a billion dollars


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