Arizona Democratic Lawmakers Say Border Crisis Is Sensationalized

August 6, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona Democratic lawmakers representing the border issued a public announcement on Tuesday declaring the border to be improved. 

Neither of the senators behind the announcement, Brian Fernandez (D-LD23) and Rosanna Gabaldon (D-LD21), acknowledged the state of the border as a crisis.

Gabaldon indicated that ongoing concerns over the border were overblown, likening the border to a “political pawn” used to score points for voting bases. Gabaldon said that the 25 percent decline in border arrests last month and the decline in border encounters indicate an improvement in border security. 

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) documented about 144,600 encounters last month, a decline from the 206,700 encounters in May. Last month’s encounters were 63,200 less than last June’s total, and 44,400 less than the total for June 2021. However, the total remains four times as many as the total for June 2020 (33,000) and 40,200 more than June 2019. 

Under President Joe Biden, there has been an historic total of nearly 5.7 million illegal immigrant encounters at the southwest border. 

With one more month in this fiscal year, terrorist illegal immigrant apprehensions by CBP at the southern border have reached 140, already surpassing last year’s total of 98. 

Gabaldon did allude that illegal immigrants do continue to suffer in their attempts to evade legal ports of entry on their journey to the U.S., though she didn’t expand on her remark.

“We must begin to recognize the human cost of failing to address the border properly,” said Gabaldon.

Fernandez said that the public’s current understanding of the border as a crisis was due to “misinformation” and “pointing fingers” to assign blame. Fernandez added that reporting over the border crisis is “sensationalized” due to the decline in encounters and arrests.

Fernandez further said that leadership, including Gov. Katie Hobbs, were taking the right actions to mitigate the border crisis. He cited one meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as proof of action.

“Governor Hobbs has already made a concerted effort to address our border needs,” said Fernandez. 

Hobbs also held listening sessions in March to better gain a grasp on the state of the border. That same month, Hobbs began the process of ending former Gov. Doug Ducey’s Border Strike Force. Hobbs already removed the shipping containers closing up the border wall installed in the waning weeks of the Ducey administration.

The senators called for increased funding for legal ports of entry, declaring that’s where a majority of illicit trafficking occurs. The pair also called for citizenship opportunities for illegal immigrants.

“It is our responsibility to better protect our communities and those seeking asylum,” said Gabaldon.

“Our policies must offer a pathway to citizenship for those paying into our economy and communities,” said Fernandez. “It’s time we look at our immigration policy and present Arizona with a pathway forward that offers security and opportunity for all.”

The southern border hasn’t been alone in handling the illegal immigrant influx: the northern border has seen a marked increase in attempted illegal entries, especially by those wanted on criminal or terrorist charges. In June, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) began investigating reports of the northern border left unmanned while remaining open for 24 hours.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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