Sen. Mark Kelly sees border surge as ‘crisis’ in need of resolution

Mar 18, 2021, 10:19 AM

Migrants stand in line after being released from U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody at a bu...

Migrants stand in line after being released from U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody at a bus station, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in Brownsville, Texas. Team Brownsville, a humanitarian group, is helping the migrants reach their final destination in the U.S. A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive. An official says U.S. authorities encountered nearly double the number children traveling alone across the Mexican border in one day this week than on an average day last month. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

PHOENIX – U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona says the swell of migrants at the border is more than a serious situation and it needs a quick resolution.

“We can’t allow what happened in 2019 to happen again,” the freshman Democrat said Thursday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News. He was referring to the flood of migrants from Central America who made their way to the United States border that year.

The numbers overwhelmed shelters and services. Many of the migrants were unaccompanied children. Both are factors now.

“I think everybody’s definition of a crisis is different. For me, it’s a crisis,” Kelly said.

The number of people caught attempting to cross the border has been rising since April and last month surpassed 100,000, the highest level since before the pandemic and on track to hit a 20-year high.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday called the wave of migrants a difficult challenge but nothing new.

U.S. authorities are still turning most people away under a public health order issued at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. But President Joe Biden’s administration, reversing the Trump administration, has decided to allow unaccompanied teens and children to enter the country to pursue claims for legal residency, either through asylum or for some other reason.

Kelly visited the border in January and plans to go again.

“It’s always good to see things firsthand,” he said, adding there wasn’t timetable for the visit.

Kelly said he and fellow Arizona Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema were focusing on getting resources to border towns Douglas, Nogales and Yuma.

“We need to get this situation under control,” Kelly said. “And that means more resources for the border, to our border towns, resources to charities that are trying to handle the situation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Sen. Mark Kelly sees border surge as ‘crisis’ in need of resolution