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Sen. Sinema says she’s pushing for bipartisan fixes for border situation

(Twitter Photo/@SenatorSinema)

PHOENIX – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said Thursday she’s been pushing for bipartisan solutions to what she calls a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The situation at the border is absolutely a crisis,” the Democrat from Arizona told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News. “I don’t think there’s any denying that.

“But I also think what’s more important than terminology is action.”

While she agreed with Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey that the federal government isn’t handling the situation adequately, her reaction to another recent related development was more measured than his.

Ducey lambasted President Joe Biden on Wednesday for assigning Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the White House effort on border issues, calling her “the worst possible choice.”

Sinema, however, is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“Ask me again in a couple of weeks after we’ve seen whether there’s action, meaningful action, to address this crisis on the border, and we’ll go from there,” she said.

Sinema, who grew up in southern Arizona, said she hasn’t seen appropriate federal border policies in her lifetime and is using her experience to educate federal officials and fellow senators.

“This is not a Democratic or Republican problem,” she said. “It’s an American problem.”

As chair of the Senate border management subcommittee, she wants to help close loopholes in the nation’s asylum laws.

Sinema said she told Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that federal authorities need to stop dropping off asylum-seekers in Arizona communities that aren’t equipped to care for them.

“What we see are small communities that get drop-offs of migrants in towns that don’t even have a bus stop,” she said. “Some towns like Gila Bend you don’t even have a grocery store.”

On Tuesday, Gila Bend Mayor Chris Riggs declared a state of emergency over the influx of asylum-seeking migrants being dropped off in the southwest Maricopa County town.

“I’ve got nothing here, I’ve got no shelter, nowhere to put them,” Riggs said. “Literally, they’d be sleeping at the park and I’m not going to do that to little children.”

Sinema said she’s been explaining to colleagues on both sides of the aisle what kind of impact the drop-offs have on both the migrants and the impacted communities.

“Yesterday we had a bipartisan senator meeting to talk about the crisis at the border and immigration policy overall, and I stressed to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle that it’s important to learn about what’s happening at the border, to understand what this does,” she said.

Earlier this week, in a letter cosigned by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sinema urged Biden “to use your full authorities to effectively respond to and successfully manage the ongoing crisis at our Southwest Border.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gabriel Gamiño contributed to this report.

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