By Terri Jo Neff |
While U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) led a group of Republican lawmakers to Cochise County last week, the beleaguered U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas made news for his own border visit – in Poland.
Rep. Juan Ciscomani (AZ) hosted the Feb. 16 visit of McCarthy and three other first year members of Congress to southern Arizona. They arrived just days after the National Sheriffs Association met in Washington, D.C., with many sheriffs renewing a call for lawmakers to get educated about the southwest border crisis.
Such visits have occurred in the past, by both Republicans and Democrats, but McCarthy appears committed to keeping attention on the border for at least a few more weeks.
A visit to Arizona is already planned for this month by the House Judiciary Committee, which is promoting the trip as a “field hearing.” A similar road trip is being arranged for the House Homeland Security Committee in March, although the destination has not been announced.
McCarthy also promised there will be hearings in Washington, D.C. in an effort to secure the border with or without the cooperation of the Biden administration.
But as U.S. lawmakers focus on securing America’s southern border, fallout continues from the visit Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made to Poland, as he continues to downplay the crisis in the U.S.
Much of the focus of McCarthy’s recent visit revolved around the continued flow of illegal border crossers and an unprecedented flow of deadly fentanyl. Unlike Yuma County and much of the Texas / Mexico border, Cochise County typically does not see large groups of crossers, and certainly not the kind of groups who turn themselves in to federal authorities.
Instead, U. S. Border Patrol and local law enforcement officials deal with small groups that go to extreme efforts to avoid detection and capture. McCarthy also addressed the national impact of the increase in drug smuggling incidents, with unprecedented volumes of fentanyl making its way to the Midwest and Northeast after coming through Arizona.
“Today more than 300 Americans will be poisoned and die from fentanyl,” said McCarthy. “Tomorrow there will be 300 more. That’s the equivalent of an airline crashing.”
Accompanying McCarthy and Ciscomani were Reps. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR), Jen Kiggans (VA), and Derrick Van Orden (WI).
Terri Jo Neff is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or send her news tips here.