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Arizona officials respond to executive action by President Biden on border security

Migrants speak to an unidentified Border Patrol agent at the border west of Somerton, Ariz. in Yuma County about one hour after Title 42 ended on Thursday, May 11, 2023.
Victor Calderón/KAWC
Migrants speak to an unidentified Border Patrol agent at the border west of Somerton, Ariz. in Yuma County about one hour after Title 42 ended on Thursday, May 11, 2023.

As President Joe Biden announced a new immigration policy on Tuesday that would restrict asylum claims by migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, elected officials in Arizona and the Yuma area said it was either too inhumane or does not go far enough to end illegal border crossings.

President Biden issued an executive order to temporarily suspend the processing of most asylum claims at the southern U.S. border when the seven-day average of unauthorized crossings exceeds 2,500. Biden said he would have preferred to have Congress pass bipartisan legislation but he said Republicans' failure to work with Democrats forced him to take this action.

In a released statement, Democratic U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, whose district includes South Yuma County, said “This executive action represents a significant departure from President Biden’s promise of a more humane and just approach to immigration. It tramples on the universal right to claim asylum and prevents migrants from attempting to legally access safety and security in the United States...

"Rather than appeasing Republicans who continuously refuse to work on bipartisan legislation and block immigration solutions for political gain, I urge President Biden, instead, to use his authority to take concrete action to help fix our broken immigration system. That starts with sending more resources to border communities, expanding legal pathways, streamlining the asylum seeking process, making it easier for individuals and families to work and live here, and creating a pathway to citizenship to give millions the certainty they deserve.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, whose district includes Yuma, went off on what he and his fellow party members call "Biden's open border policy."

In a released statement, Gosar said "On his first day in office, Biden halted construction of the wall along the southern border and ended President Trump’s successful remain in Mexico policy.

Now with five months before the election and polls showing Americans overwhelming (sic) disapprove of Biden’s open border policies, Biden’s latest politically motivated actions are too little, too late and do nothing to stop the asylum abuse, do not end catch-and-release and certainly won’t do a damn thing to deport the 13 million lawbreakers who have been welcomed into our country since Biden took office,”

Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls spoke to KAWC's Chris McDaniel on Tuesday afternoon. Stay tuned to hear what Mayor Nicholls had to say on President Biden's executive order on the border. Nicholls was invited to the White House ceremony but did not attend, saying he would have preferred to have been involved in negotiations on the order.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly was in Washington and addressed reporters outside the White House.

In a released statement, Sen. Kelly said “President Biden’s plan is a welcome action that will help address urgent needs at the border. In Arizona, where Border Patrol agents and nonprofits are often overwhelmed by daily migrant crossings, this new effort will support their crucial work and help relieve border communities from the burden of our broken immigration system."

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said Congress is not off the hook on immigration.

In a released statement, Sen. Sinema said "Today's executive action attempts to address the surge of migrants overwhelming Border Patrol agents across Arizona. While it remains to be seen if this attempt will successfully address the crisis Arizona faces every day, it’s important to remember that executive actions are not substitutes for legislation. Congress must realistically solve the border crisis.”

Biden's order came on the same day the Arizona House of Representatives passed HCR 2060, the Secure the Border Act.

Activists from groups including LUCHA and the Kino Border Initiative, a Catholic organization that offers migrant services in Nogales, Sonora, gathered at the State Capitol in Phoenix to speak against the measure.

In a released statement, KBI officials said "This policy is cruel and goes against all of the values we hold dear. As citizens of Arizona and members of the Ambos Nogales community, we stand ready to welcome people in need of protection -- we ask that the government join us and create a humane, viable, and just pathway to asylum, not an egregious restriction that bars people from safety."

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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