The Mexican cartels, not the U.S. government, are controlling aspects of the southern border, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema says.
“Right now, the United States government is not choosing who enters this country; the cartels are choosing that. That is dangerous,” Sinema said.
The former Democratic senator, now an Independent, toured the southern border Wednesday and held a roundtable with local leaders and law enforcement in Cochise County, Arizona.
“What we’re seeing in Cochise County is a border security crisis,” Sinema said during the meeting. To solve the crisis, Sinema says “cracks in the legal system” need to be addressed “so the cartels can’t use a multi-pronged strategy to keep us away from doing the border security.”
The cartels employ various tactics to smuggle drugs and people into the United States. For example, large groups of illegal immigrants are sometimes pushed across the border all at one time to monopolize the Border Patrol’s attention while cartel members smuggle drugs across another part of the border. Cartel members are also using social media platforms to recruit smugglers.
The record number of illegal aliens entering America and claiming asylum have pulled Border Patrol agents off the front lines of duty and into offices to process asylum claims, leaving the border even more vulnerable to illegal crossings.
Cochise County is located in the Tucson Sector, one of Border Patrol’s nine southern border sectors. Since the start of fiscal year 2023 in October, Border Patrol has encountered more than 112,000 illegal aliens in the sector, nearly double the 66,000 encountered in all of fiscal 2020.
Local law enforcement often works with Border Patrol to capture illegal aliens who evade agents.
“It’s a challenge down here on the border,” Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels told Sinema during Wednesday’s meeting.
“We feel abandoned a little bit,” Dannels said, adding, “We get very little support.”
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz., Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, and Rep. David Valadeo, R-Calif., were also present at the roundtable.
“What we’re seeing at our border is a humanitarian and national security crisis—finding a solution requires working across the aisle,” Valadeo wrote on Twitter during the border tour.
Rancher John Ladd sat around the large table with Sinema and the other lawmakers. Ladd’s ranch borders Mexico, and it is not uncommon for illegal aliens to cross through his land or for him to even find the bodies of dead migrants on his property. Ladd says the security of his ranches has changed over the years with shifting presidential administrations.
“That’s not fair,” Sinema said. “That shouldn’t be John’s experience, right? John should get to expect that the security and safety of his property is consistent from one administration to the next. He doesn’t have that promise right now. Its Congress’ job to affect laws that create that level of security and predictability for John and his family.”
Sinema is calling on Congress to pass immigration reform and stop the flood of illegal aliens entering America daily.
Since the start of fiscal year 2021, Customs and Border Protection reports more than 5 million encounters with illegal aliens at the southern border. Already in fiscal 2023, which began in October, Border Patrol has encountered more than a million illegal aliens there.
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