By Corinne Murdock |
Democratic congressional candidate and former state senator Kirsten Engel declared on Wednesday that there isn’t a border crisis.
Arizona Horizon host Ted Simons asked Engel during an election debate whether she agreed that the current state of the border constituted a crisis. Engel said she didn’t, adding that additional borders security wasn’t the solution.
“No. It does need help at the border. We do — Washington, I would say, has failed us. It’s not just this administration. It’s the past administration. We do need help at our border. We do need to secure our border. We have issues of drug trafficking and human smuggling that need to be addressed, but certainly not walls. I mean walls are a 13th century solution to a 21st century problem.
Engel, who resigned from the state senate last September, insinuated that turning away illegal immigrants was the real crisis.
“I mean, let’s look at what’s going on here. We have people, migrants, coming who want to make a home in our country. You know, these people are like our ancestors coming here. That is — that’s the crisis. That’s a humanitarian crisis,” said Engel. “What we need from Washington is having an orderly asylum process. That’s national law, that’s international law. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We have to help our Dreamers.”
The debate also featured Engel’s Democratic opponent, State Representative Daniel Hernández Jr. (D-Tucson), who disagreed with Engel. He said that a wall wasn’t enough, pointing out the need for more security technology like drones.
“We are seeing that people don’t feel safe where they’re living, even though we are saying that this is an issue that has gone time after time,” said Hernández. “To say there is no crisis is wrong.”
Engel agreed that a federal presence was necessary at the border, as well as more technology, but emphasized her opposition to a border wall.
“Walls are not going to do it, and neither are photo ops,” said Engel. “It’s not all drug smugglers. It’s families with little kids.”
Hernández said that his perspective on rescinding Title 42 reflected that of Democratic Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema: the policy should be removed, but there should be a plan ready to fill the void left behind.
“These are people coming here trying to get a better life, so we should treat them humanely with dignity, but make sure we have a plan to actually address [them],” said Hernández.
Engel agreed, calling Title 42 a “stop-gap solution.” She pointed out that about half of the people returned to Mexico under Title 42 ended up reentering the country, citing that as a failure of the policy. Like Hernández, Engel said she wanted to see a plan first before rescinding the policy.
“There’s no adjudication of their claim,” said Engel. “Title 42 is not the answer.”