Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake eyes invasion declaration, sweeping border moves if elected

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Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is promising to declare an “invasion” at the southern border if elected to lead the state in November, one of a number of aggressive moves she intends to take to combat the raging migrant crisis.

The Trump-backed former news anchor secured the Republican nomination earlier this month in a state where the migrant crisis has taken a heavy toll. Recent data obtained by Fox News show that Yuma Sector has seen a 242% increase in encounters so far this fiscal year.

With a crisis in both Arizona and Texas, Lake has joined the growing number of voices calling to declare an invasion at the southern border, a move proponents have argued would give the governor additional powers to deal with the crisis under the Constitution.

“This is the biggest invasion we’ve ever had on our homeland since the founding of this country,” Lake told Fox News Digital in an interview. “And so we’re going to call it what it is.


Kari Lake, Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, during an election night party in Scottsdale, Ariz., Aug. 2, 2022. 
(Caitlin O’Hara/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“It’s also important to call it what it is for our policy as well. We’re going to be invoking our inherent powers under Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution to defend ourselves from the invasion in lieu of the federal government reneging on their guarantees to protect us under the Guarantee Clause, Article IV, Section IV.

“So we will issue a declaration of invasion, and we will take on those powers that are granted to us in the U.S. Constitution, and we will take care of the problem at our border.”


The movement for invasion declarations has been brewing since the start of the crisis, initiated by former Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russ Vought and former acting deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, both now at the Center for Renewing America. 

They have pointed to the language in the Constitution, which allows for states to “engage in War” when they have been “actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay” without the approval of Congress.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich
(Fox News)

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued a legal opinion declaring the crisis an invasion and argued that the definition of “invasion” in the U.S. Constitution is not limited to hostile foreign states and can include “hostile non-state actors.” 

Meanwhile, in Texas, a number of county officials have issued their own declarations. So far, neither Abbott nor Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has made a formal invasion declaration, meaning a declaration by Lake next year as governor would be the first such move by a border governor. 

“A lot of people here in Arizona are very concerned with the number of people coming across,” she told Fox News Digital. 

“They’re taking jobs, and they’re driving down wages for our middle class. And there’s been no interest in any leader to do something serious about it and stand up for the people of their state. That’s going to change in January of ’23 when I take office. We’re going to put the needs of our Arizona residents first.”

Vought, at the Center for Renewing America, welcomed the pledge by Lake to declare an invasion.

“Americans should be thrilled that Kari Lake has committed to declare an invasion on Day 1 in office,” Vought said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “With a Biden administration committed to an open border, it’s incumbent on border governors to protect their people.”

Lake’s border policy calls for the invasion declaration to be accompanied by an interstate compact with “like-minded states” to work together and share resources, including the creation of a dedicated border security force to arrest, detain and return illegal immigrants. Lake would also look to invalidate federal regulations on border enforcement.


Republian Gov. Ducey has deployed the National Guard and recently started filling gaps in the border wall with welded shipping containers. Lake wants to enhance the National Guard presence and complete the border wall. She vowed to veto any budget that doesn’t include funding for it.

Construction begins to fill gaps in the border wall in Yuma, Ariz., Aug. 12, 2022.

Construction begins to fill gaps in the border wall in Yuma, Ariz., Aug. 12, 2022.
(Office of Gov. Doug Ducey.)

“The federal government canceled the contracts and left the materials sitting there on the border. So we’re going to redefine them as abandoned, take them back and use them to complete the wall,” she said. “I want to complete President Trump’s border wall project. I believe … there’s somewhere between 20 and 27 miles left, and I think we can finish that rather quickly.”

Lake’s campaign page lists a lengthy list of sweeping border policies she intends to implement. Lake wants to create a criminal illegal alien database and a special border court and also strip state funding from municipalities that declare themselves “sanctuary” jurisdictions. Her plan also allows law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants and traffickers for trespassing and expands the National Guard’s mission to allow it to destroy cartel tunnels and shoot down drones from Mexico.

She also wants to take additional measures to target criminal cartels that she says have “complete operational control” of the border and that are facilitating a massive influx of deadly illicit fentanyl into the United States. Her plan includes a carveout to allow law enforcement to seize cartel property.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs removes her face covering as she addresses members of Arizona's Electoral College before its casting of votes in Phoenix, Ariz., Dec. 14, 2020. 

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs removes her face covering as she addresses members of Arizona’s Electoral College before its casting of votes in Phoenix, Ariz., Dec. 14, 2020. 
(Ross D. Franklin/Pool via REUTERS)

“We’re going to ask the legislature to modify our civil asset forfeiture legislation to allow law enforcement broader authority to crack down on cartel operations,” Lake told Fox. “We’re going to call them what they are — terrorist organizations — and go after them as we would go after terrorists.”


However, she was less enthused by the moves by Ducey and Abbott to send busses of migrants to Washington, D.C., and New York City, calling it a “cute, fun photo op.”

“But I’m not for taking people who are here illegally, putting them on busses and shipping them around this country. That sounds like something Joe Biden would do,” she said. “It is something Joe Biden is doing. We’re just moving people who shouldn’t be here further into the country and it makes it harder to track them down. So I am not for that.”

She did say, however, that she’s enjoyed watching the outrage from New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

“I think it does get our point across, and I’ve enjoyed watching the mayor of New York freak out over this. And it’s like, ‘OK, now you know what we’re dealing with.’ So I think our point has been, ‘They’ve gotten the point, and now it’s time to just be serious about this and stop additional people from coming across that border.'”

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