Kyrsten Sinema, Mark Kelly back Katie Hobbs’ push against feds for border ‘disaster’

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee hearing Sept. 14, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Alex Brandon / AP

Arizona leaders of both parties continue to rebuke the Biden administration over their management of the southern border, including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly

Sinema and Kelly wrote to President Joe Biden on Monday reaffirming the points made in Gov. Katie Hobbs’ letter on Friday, which asked for 243 National Guard troops on federal active duty to be reassigned to assist with reopening the Lukeville Port of Entry.

In the letter, the senators also backed Hobbs’ request for a $512 million reimbursement to the state for border security expenses, which the senators called a “security and humanitarian disaster caused by Washington’s inaction.”

“For far too long, Arizona communities have paid the price for Washington’s failures on the border. They are unfairly forced to use their own very limited resources to manage and serve record numbers of migrants, which are overwhelming our broken immigration system,” the senators wrote.

“To help manage this crisis, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently indefinitely closed the Lukeville Port of Entry and diverted all Port Officers to process and transport migrants arriving at the border. This decision is an unacceptable outcome that further destabilizes our border, risks the safety of our communities, and damages our economy. Our ports of entry are key drivers of economic growth and security in our state, and it is critical that they be properly staffed and resourced,” they continued.

In terms of National Guard troops, the 243 are already in the area under the purview of the federal government, which is why the governor and the senators are requesting the Biden administration send to Lukeville. However, the senators also wrote that they wanted “additional” troops already on federal active duty, but not in the area, to be sent to the border town to help out Customs and Border Protection.

Hobbs, who visited Lukeville on Saturday, has stopped short of taking the Texas approach and sending National Guard troops without asking the federal government first. However, she said that part of her recently launched “Operation SECURE” includes potentially deploying troops if the port of entry does not reopen soon, The Center Square reported. 

Although the letter from Sinema and Kelly was addressed to Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has also been under scrutiny by Arizona’s congressional delegation. Reps. Greg Stanton and Juan Ciscomani wrote to Mayorkas last week asking for a timeline for when Lukeville will reopen, as well as asking why exactly it closed, The Center Square reported. Hobbs told The Center Square last week that she’s been in touch with DHS, but she has not talked with Mayorkas directly since September. 

Republished with the permission of The Center Square.