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Sonoran guv: Build bridges, not walls

By: - January 7, 2019 4:30 pm

Sonora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich at the Arizona’s 2019 inauguration of statewide elected officials. Photo by Laura Gómez | Arizona Mirror

With the backdrop of a presidential trip to the southern border and a government partially shut-down over disagreement on funding for a border wall, Gov. Claudia Pavlovich of Sonora, Mexico, told the Arizona Mirror she rejects plans to build a wall along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I don’t believe in walls much, I believe in bridges. Building bridges is always very helpful in improving the relationships between countries and between states,” Pavlovich told the Mirror following the inauguration ceremony Arizona statewide elected officials Monday. “But I’m also respectful of a country’s sovereignty.”

For his part, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey hasn’t made any statements about his view on the border wall proposal that’s holding the federal government from fully operating and compensating its employees. Ducey has repeatedly falsely claimed that Arizona’s southern border “is wide open and unprotected.”

At the same time, Ducey touts the relationship with the Pavlovich administration, and during his inaugural speech Monday, he acknowledged his Sonoran counterpart.

“We’re more than just neighbors with Sonora, we’re partners,” Ducey said, calling Pavlovich a friend. “And that partnership is leading to more growth and prosperity for both our states.”

Pavlovich later told reporters one the biggest accomplishments from the Arizona-Sonora government ties is the Megaregion – a plan that markets Arizona and Sonora as one strategic geographic location competitive in a global economy.

“In our borders, we have a lot in common,” Pavlovich said.

Of the large groups of Central American migrants that have traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, Pavlovich said the need for services is greater in the neighboring state of Baja California. Her government has two shelters for migrant minors, Tin Otoch in Hermosillo, which opened in August, and Camino a Casa in Nogales. Pavlovich said those are operating well, but she’s requested assistance from the Mexican federal government.

“We are waiting for funds to deal with this problem head-on, in case it intensifies,” Pavlovich said.

Meanwhile, churches in the Phoenix-area continue to receive mothers, fathers and children released from federal immigration custody as a record number of families cross the border.   

In the Yuma sector in October – when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began releasing large groups of immigrants to community groups in Arizona – migrant families and children traveling alone made up 85 percent of the total people U.S. Border Patrol arrested crossing the border illegally. In Tucson, that share was 28 percent in October.

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Laura Gómez
Laura Gómez

Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for education, immigration, political, and public safety reporting and Spanish-language news and feature reporting. Laura worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.