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Congressman Grijalva Talks New Immigration Policy, Tribal Issues, Keeping Informed in Somerton

Victor Calderón/KAWC
U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva speaks with reporters in Somerton on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva was in Somerton Thursday where he met with tribal leaders from the Cocopah and Quechan Native American tribes. Congressman Grijalva spoke to KAWC about a new immigration policy introduced Wednesday by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan that would allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to detain migrant family units indefinitely.

Grijalva also spoke about how he stays informed about what is going on in south Yuma County while he is out in his other Congressional offices in Washington or Tucson.

Congressman Grijalva visited the San Luis Port of Entry in late July. Grijalva said he has toured migrant holding facilities in other border communities but has not been able to visit the Yuma facility yet.

Still, on Thursday, Grijalva told KAWC the proposed regulations that would allow the government to detain migrant children and families indefinitely are just the latest examples of President Donald Trump’s anti-Latino and anti-immigrant rhetoric. He says it’s not going away anytime soon.

“All the rhetoric, all the executive decisions, especially when it comes to the borderlands, when it comes to the issue of immigration and immigrants, is just going to get worse," Grijalva said. "That’s the campaign (Republicans) are running. It’s based on race. It’s based on division. It’s based on culture wars and it’s based on us versus them.” 

Grijalva said he counts on his staff and his relationships with community leaders throughout Yuma County to keep him informed when he is in Washington or Tucson.

“You have to have a staff person," he said. "Otherwise you can’t keep up."

Elected officials check in, as do council members in Somerton and San Luis, Grijalva added.

"One thing about South County- they’re not shy about letting you know what they think… We listen to the news and try to keep up… I have a very diverse district. A big chunk is rural. There are a lot of veterans, 400 miles of border.

"It’s a fun challenge," Grijalva said, laughing.

Grijalva said his meeting with the Cocopah tribal leaders went well. He met with Chairwoman Sherry Cordova and three tribal council members. He said the discussion centered on protecting sacred tribal sites and water settlements related to the recently approved drought contingency plan. Grijalva said the tribal leaders also shared challenges from their location in rural Arizona.

“(We discussed) how to access resources when you’re a small rural tribe compared to bigger tribes that are closer to metropolitan area like Phoenix or Tucson and have more access in D.C.," he said.

Congressman Grijalva said he is looking forward to the start of the new Congressional session.

Victor is originally from West Sacramento, California and has lived in Arizona for more than five years. He began his print journalism career in 2004 following his graduation from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Victor has been a reporter for the following daily newspapers: The Monterey County Herald, The Salinas Californian and the Reno Gazette-Journal, where he covered stories including agriculture, education and Latino community news. Victor has also served as a local editor for Patch, a national news organization with hyperlocal websites, in Carmichael, California in the Sacramento area. He also served as the editor for The New Vision, the newspaper for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, which includes Yuma and La Paz counties. Victor lives in Somerton. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends and following most sports.
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