A Senate panel voted Tuesday to set up a militia of 300 citizen volunteers who would have the authority to pursue, detain and arrest people.
The legislation would form the Arizona Special Missions Unit, separate from the National Guard. Under the control of the governor, it would respond to disasters and get involved in search and rescue efforts. But it also would be responsible in helping to secure the border and supplement law enforcement, including that power of arrest. Sen. Sylvia Allen said the move is long overdue.
"We are being invaded by criminals," said Allen, "who have formed alliances with Mideastern terrorists who use violence in the most evil of ways to intimidate, control and protect their drug, human smuggling, multi-billion dollar business."
The proposal and its $1.4 million appropriation drew a skeptical reaction from Sen. David Lujan.
"So we're going to take on the Mideastern terrorists and Hezbollah and the drug cartels with 300 volunteers and hardly any funding?" he asked.
Senator Allen said the state has no alternative.
"So we just sit here and allow them to come into our state, building this infrastructure because we say that 300 people or 200 people might not help in this effort at all?" she asked. "We can either do something or do nothing."
Even with two Republicans against the measure, there were enough votes in the Appropriations Committee to move the bill along.