Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) hasn’t pressed President Joe Biden lately on the border, let alone a visit there, despite the number of illegal border crossings reaching an all-time historic high: 1.7 million. It was revealed that Biden hadn’t ever visited the border after Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy brought the topic up to Press Secretary Jen Psaki last month.
Psaki circled back to the topic in last Friday’s White House press briefing, in response to a follow-up by Doocy after Biden claimed he’d visited the border during a CNN town hall the day before. Psaki appeared to allude to a report by The Washington Post, which stated that the last time Biden visited the border was a “drive-by” in 2008. According to that report, he drove by the border while on the campaign trail for previous President Barack Obama.
AZ Free News inquired with Kelly’s office for comment. They didn’t respond by press time.
The most recent action from Kelly on the border concerns hearings for Biden’s nomination for Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) commissioner. Last week, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus sat before the Senate Finance Committee for a confirmation hearing.
Both Kelly and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) vowed to the committee that Magnus would be an optimal choice for CBP commissioner. Sinema emphasized Magnus’ capabilities to protect the border; Kelly remarked that Magnus would be a “committed public servant,” not pointing fingers at the Biden Administration but rather stressing that “decades” of broken immigration laws and politician failures were to blame for the border.
In comparison to Kelly, Sinema has been more vocal in her discontent with Biden’s handling of the border. Sinema demanded that the Biden Administration “do more” to address the illegal immigrants.
“The reality is that this is a crisis and we all know it, and the federal government must do more to address this surge of migrants who are coming to the border in increasing numbers each year,” said Sinema.
Though Kelly hasn’t asked Biden to visit the border, both he and Sinema requested in April that Biden reimburse Arizona for their National Guard deployment expenses. Then in August, they petitioned Biden again to reimburse the state’s expenditures following a show of support for Governor Doug Ducey’s announcement that he would be extending the deployment of the 150 guardsmen for another year.
Biden hasn’t footed the bill.
In July, however, Biden did approve legislation to reimburse the National Guard $521 million for their deployment of 26,000 troops following the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
On Friday, a group of Arizona legislators reached out to Governor Doug Ducey with an offer to work with him to address the “omnipresent border crisis.” In a letter to the governor, the legislators also inquire as to the level of funding provided to the Border Strike Force.
Led by Rep. Shawnna Bolick, the lawmakers advised the governor that they hope to work with him to “come up with a concrete plan to further allocate resources to complete portions of the Border wall and ensure Border Strike Force is fully funded.”
The lawmakers accuse the Biden Administration of not making “the public safety or health of Arizonans” a top priority, noting that it “took until today for Vice President Kamala Harris to see the invasion for herself in El Paso.”
“We applaud other governors answering your call for assistance to send some of their law enforcement as back up as the ongoing invasion continues along the southern Border,” write the lawmakers. “The problem is real. We wish you didn’t have to rely on other states to bail us out because the federal government has failed us, but illegal immigration affects every state.”
The lawmakers cite as a source of concern an incident that occurred earlier this year which was “highlighted in the local newspaper that the Department of Public Safety release two confessed human smuggler with just a traffic citation after stopping him along a valley freeway in April with a van full of illegal immigrants.”
“It was rather alarming to read that the illegal immigrants in the van were released into the Phoenix area even though it is a direct violation of state law to be in our state unlawfully. It is noted that the federal agents would not pick up this van full of illegal immigrants if they weren’t violent felons. If the Border Strike Force isn’t identifying traffickers along the southern Border and they are making their way into the Valley, is the Border Strike Force understaffed and underfunded?”
The lawmakers expressed a desire to “work together to further investigate why this human trafficker was let go.”
“We support trade relations with Mexico, but we do not want transnational crime rings bringing further ruin into our state. It is past time to plug the gaping holes on state land that buttress Mexico allowing traffickers to invade our state.”
The lawmakers argue that border security is a states’ rights issue.
Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that Texas would build its border wall. Abbotts aid that the state will be soliciting donations from across the country to help fund the wall.
“When I do make the announcement later on this week, I will also be providing a link that you can click on and go to for everybody in the United States — really everybody in the entire world — who wants to help Texas build the border wall, there will be a place on there where they can contribute,” Abbott said on a podcast show called “Ruthless.”
As AZ Free News reported earlier this month, Ducey and Abbott urgently requested all U.S. governors to send available law enforcement resources to their states along the U.S.-Mexico border as illegal border crossings, apprehensions, and unaccompanied migrant children in federal custody increase.
The Customs and Border Protection apprehension numbers for May showed more than 180,000 illegal aliens were apprehended crossing the border over the course of the month, a 674% increase from the 23,237 illegal aliens apprehended at the border in May 2020.
In a joint letter from Ducey and Abbott, fellow governors were told: “In response to the ongoing surge of illegal border crossings, with the accompanying threats to private property and to the safety of our citizens, Governor Abbott has declared a disaster and Governor Ducey has declared an emergency.”
Bolick was joined in the letter by Reps. Becky Nutt, Tim Dunn, Walt Blackman, Brenda Barton, John Kavanaugh, Mark Finchem, Joseph Chaplik, Beverly Pingerelli, Leo Biasiucci, Judy Burgess, Frank Carroll, Quang Nguyen, John Fillmore, Jacqueline Parker, and Steve Kaiser.
Earlier today I wrote a letter to @dougducey addressing the #BorderCrisis & the need to work together to solve it. Many of my fellow legislators co-signed it. If the Fed’s aren’t going to finish building the wall, AZ should. 💪🏻🙌🏻 pic.twitter.com/DXbit71KP3
Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) both voted against an amendment prohibiting the cancellation of the border wall contracts back in February. Yet, both senators have since lamented President Joe Biden’s policymaking for initiating the border crisis and promptly neglecting it. They went so far as to say that the federal government failed Arizona. Sinema even urged the Biden Administration to take “bold action.”
Not only would the amendment have prohibited the cancellation of contracts – it would have prevented the Biden Administration from assuming the penalties for cancelling the contracts, and repurpose the wall-building funds for paying off the penalties. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced the amendment, numbered 542. The Senate split on the vote, 50-50.
“To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to protecting American taxpayers and the border, which may include prohibiting the cancellation of contracts for physical barriers and other border security measures for which funds already have been obligated and for which penalties will be incurred in the case of such cancellation and prohibiting the use of funds for payment of such penalties,” reads the amendment’s summary.
In total, the legislation saw nearly 900 amendments introduced.
Kelly has consistently been against a border wall since his campaign. In a debate last October with former Republican Senator Martha McSally, Kelly called border walls “17th-century solutions for 21st-century problems.” Kelly instead called for an investment into more technology and border patrol agents.
Although Kelly didn’t specify what he meant by technology, it is likely he was referring to an expansion of current technologies – such as cameras, radars, imagers, and sensors.
Similarly to Kelly, Sinema has said that increasing the amount of border patrol agents was a more “practical, realistic solution.” In the same interview, Sinema acknowledged the importance of border walls, but said they weren’t enough.
During her campaign trail, Sinema said that immigration and securing the border were her top priorities. She repeatedly called the border wall a “waste of taxpayer money.”
Not long after she was elected, Sinema abstained her vote when it came to Trump’s proposed spending plan totaling $5 billion for a wall.
As of April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has tracked nearly 180,000 enforcement encounters. Those numbers mark an unprecedented surge in illegal border crossings over the last few administrations.
Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
America has a border wall that is very efficient at keeping out intruders. It hasn’t been breached once in over three months.
Unfortunately, it protects only our political elites at the US Capitol, who are under minimal threat. Other Americans must make do with a wall that is highly porous, that leaks multitudes of illegal immigrants daily, including everything from petty criminals making life miserable for border residents to murderous cartel members.
Americans not living in a cave know we have a hot mess on our southern border. Fired up by Biden‘s not-so-subtle invitation to come in, hordes of migrants began forming caravans even before his inauguration.
175,000 immigrants in March alone overwhelmed border patrol agents, with unknown additional numbers sneaking across. Overcrowded facilities at the border are so deplorable that even reporters and congressmen are denied access.
Worse, 20,000 unaccompanied minors were in custody at last count. From the appearance of their accommodations, kids in cages are back big time.
Economic migration of would-be breadwinners has been replaced by families and children, because of an inane policy requiring all minors who present at the border to be automatically admitted. The Biden administration claims to be strictly enforcing immigration laws, but only 10 of 20 percent are refused admission.
The majority of illegal immigrants are released into the US population with status pending a court date far in the future. “Asylum-seekers“ rarely prevail in court. Understandably, few risk deportation by showing up.
Meanwhile, busloads of migrants empty out into hapless desert towns like Ajo and Gila Bend, which have absolutely no capability to provide the (free) food and accommodations expected. Some are sent to military bases where the US Armed Forces are deployed to care and provide for them. Migrants not admitted construct tent cities at the border and feel entitled to refuse to move until their “demands“ are met.
This is clearly a humanitarian crisis and a serious security threat. Even some leaders of the immigrants’ home countries object. Yet the response of the Biden administration has been a preternatural calmness.
They have made no effort to prevent the masses from coming. They spent great amounts of political capital on avoiding the word “crisis“ to describe the crisis. They have worked hard to keep us from knowing or seeing the ghastly details.
They have contended that it’s “Trump’s fault”, which is truly laughable. Border crossings were controlled during his tenure. All hell broke loose only when they foolishly reversed the previous administration’s policies.
To control the debacle, Biden appointed his VP. But Kamala Harris has so far not even attempted to appear interested, literally laughing at the suggestion that she might even visit the border.
But c’mon man. There is only one explanation that makes any sense: Democratic dreams of millions of new easily controlled voters. Where reasonable people see uneducated, low-skilled workers who broke our law, don’t speak our language and have no intention of sharing our history and values, Democrat leaders see future Democrats. No price is too great to pay in pursuit of an assured political future.
The suffering at the border is of no apparent concern. Known terrorists and cartel members slipping in? Children found abandoned in the desert? Unfair competition with American workers in a tight market for low-end labor? None of it matters.
The only point of the drill is to somehow get these future Dems physically into the country. Then nothing happens when they skip their court hearings, get “papers“ for jobs and government benefits and over-run welfare and justice systems.
Before long we’ll be hearing amnesty is the only possible course because, like the DACA recipients, they have been here for so long, they know no other home, there are too many to send back, blah, blah. An undemanding “pathway to citizenship“ will be the only humane solution. We’ll probably be promised enhanced border security (again) if we go along.
Up to 20 million illegal aliens already live in the US. Biden’s number is for 2 million more per year. America is a welcoming country that wants and needs a sound immigration system. We just don’t need this one.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.