Arizona officials hopeful for action after Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s border visit

Feb 17, 2023, 3:00 PM

PHOENIX — Rep. Kevin McCarthy made his first to visit the border in southern Arizona as House speaker on Thursday, a trip that left local officials hopeful that federal action to improve security in the region would follow.

Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona organized the delegation, which included three of his fellow freshman Republican members of Congress: Oregon’s Lori Chavez-DeRemer, Virginia’s Jen Kiggans and Wisconsin’s Derrick Van Orden.

“Every state has become a border state because of the fentanyl crisis,” Ciscomani told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Friday.

“So they got to see … firsthand how it’s happening and how the people at the border are paying the price for [President Joe] Biden and [Homeland Security Director Alejandro] Mayorkas’ failed policies.”

McCarthy, who has been speaker for a little over a month after Republicans won control of the House in the midterms, said the goal of the trip was to find solutions.

During a press conference in front of the border wall in Cochise County, the Californian said visits like Thursday’s will provide information to be used in legislation that’s being crafted.

“It’s different than the Congress before. We’re just not going to write the bill and put it onto the floor. We’re going to listen to people that are on the border. We’re going to listen to border agents,” McCarthy said.

“We want the very best ideas.”

The trip included a briefing at the Tucson Sector Border Patrol headquarters, an aerial tour and a community roundtable.

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said the roundtable with local law enforcement, elected officials and residents went well.

“It was very productive, informal to the point of people spoke their minds. I feel there was a lot of worth and value that came out of that meeting,” he told KTAR News afterward.

Dannels was encouraged by the visit.

“You’re seeing not just talk, you’re seeing action,” he said. “So if we could put bipartisan support and move this forward, and the bottom line, it’s for the good of the people, the good of our country, and that’s what I support.”

Ciscomani said the locals presented a clear message for their visitors: things are “out of control.”

“They’ve never seen it this bad,” Ciscomani said. “To quote the Tucson Sector chief just a few weeks ago, he said, ‘Before, I called this unprecedented. Now, I don’t have an adjective to describe it.'”

KTAR News’ Nick Sadowski contributed to this report.

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Arizona officials hopeful for action after Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s border visit