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Yuma City and County leaders encouraged by U.S. Senators' visit

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Lisa Sturgis, KAWC
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Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls speaks with Sen. Mark Kelly, (D-Ariz.) after Tuesday's roundtable discussion

YUMA, Ariz. (KAWC) - Local leaders tell KAWC they’re hopeful Tuesday’s visit by six U.S. senators will lead to positive change on the border.

Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and John Cornyn Texas brought the senators first to El Paso, then here to Yuma.

In both cities, they heard from law enforcement, non-profits, and local leaders, including Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls.

Nicholls has taken a very active role in seeking solutions to the border crisis, but has seen very little progress over the years.

He says Tuesday’s conversation with the senators has him feeling optimistic.

“This is the first time in my almost 10 years in office that I've seen six sitting senators come out from both parties, or as Senator Sinema pointed out, three parties, to talk about immigration in a very open forum with local leaders and everybody at the table. So it's monumental in that respect. And so I'm hopeful that we'll be able to have some progress.”

Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines has long been a vocal critic of Democratic immigration policies. Lines tells us, he sees a shift.

“I am glad to hear Democrats say that this is not sustainable, right? And that's the first time that I've heard that they realize and they see the numbers. And they see what it's doing to the border towns and to the local communities. And they know that it's not sustainable. They know that their resources are strained and that they can't do this much longer.”

Senator Mark Kelly was among the visiting delegation. He tells us he sees momentum building. Sen. Kelly also believes real progress on immigration reform is now possible.

Lisa Sturgis’ return to KAWC brings her journalistic career full circle. Uncle Bob Hardy gave Lisa her first exposures to reporting back in the 1980s. She went on to spend more than three decades in TV news before making the decision to come home to NPR.