By Corinne Murdock |
Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) championed their work to mitigate the border crisis Monday, highlighting several key provisions they secured in Congress’ annual budget bill. Their press release came the same day as the latest data was published by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), reporting nearly 165,000 illegal border crossings in February: the highest number for that month since 2000. The record high complements the record 154,000 illegal crossings in January. Those numbers fall in line with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prediction at the onset of this year that the border crisis would worsen throughout 2022.
None of their provisions included finishing the border wall. As AZ Free News reported last month, the Arizona legislature passed two separate bills to finish the border wall, allocating hundreds of millions to cover the remaining 17 miles. The House and Senate must consider the bills passed by the other before they will go before the governor.
Additionally, suggestions by Governor Doug Ducey presented in draft legislation for Sinema and Kelly were recognized and ignored in part. Ducey’s legislation called for border wall completion, physical barriers, and virtual surveillance; requirement that asylum seekers who have traveled through another country attempt to claim asylum in that country; requirement for asylum seekers to claim asylum at a port of entry; an increase in immigration judges; additional funding for local law enforcement and humanitarian efforts; and a clear declaration by the federal government that the borders aren’t open for immigration except through a port of entry and legal means.
Sinema and Kelly’s acquisitions that fulfilled Ducey’s requests were additional funding for local law enforcement and humanitarian efforts, as well as border security technology which includes virtual surveillance. In addition to their other border infrastructure investments, Sinema and Kelly secured over $2.3 billion.
Sinema emphasized that the billions would allow not only American citizens to be kept safe, but to ensure that the illegal immigrants receive fair and humane treatment.
“These critical resources will help secure the border through improved technology and additional personnel, manage the flow of migrants to keep Arizona communities safe, and provide Arizona nonprofits and DHS the resources needed to ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely,” said Sinema.
Kelly alluded that there wasn’t a guarantee that further border crisis-related burdens wouldn’t befall Arizona in the future.
“The crisis at the border continues to put a strain on our communities and law enforcement as they work to maintain a safe and orderly process. It’s critical that we are bringing needed technology, personnel, and other resources to improve border security,” said Kelly. “I’ll keep working with my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the Senate and continue pushing the Biden administration to ensure Arizona does not bear the cost of this crisis.”
From 2000 to 2006, the total number of illegal crossings at all borders hovered around one million. Then, from 2007 to 2011, that number dropped steadily from under 900,000 to 340,000. The number of crossings picked up slightly and fluctuated between 300,000 to 500,000 from 2012 to 2018. A sharp spike of 860,000 occurred in 2019, before petering off to 405,000 in 2020.