Southern Arizona’s congressional delegation splits on need for new border walls

Ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline on federal budget negotiations to avoid another government shutdown, members of the Southern Arizona congressional delegation are split on paying for new walls on the U.S.-Mexico border.

• Republican Sen. Martha McSally pointed to the incident Thursday night at the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales as evidence of everyday dangers facing law enforcement and those living in Southern Arizona. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer shot and wounded a driver who refused to stop “while fleeing to Mexico,” CBP said.

“I have long believed in an ‘all of the above’ approach to border security and will continue to be a strong advocate for using any and all resources at our disposal to stop the flow of illegal drugs and human trafficking into our country,” McSally said in a statement to the Star.

“I have and will continue to support the deployment of physical barriers, manpower, air assets, access roads, sensors, radars, fixed and mobile towers, as well as the modernization of our ports of entry. Each sector of the border has different needs and the professionals on the ground are best suited prioritize what is needed in each sector.”

• U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Tucson Democrat, continued to denounce efforts to build “the wall” as proposed by President Trump.

“Plain and simple, a border wall is not what Arizona needs to continue securing the border— despite President Trump’s bizarre fixation on it. We must update border security to the modern era, and that starts with investments to modernize our ports of entry and address the crumbling infrastructure and chronic understaffing of customs officers,” Grijalva said.

“Doing so ensures more personnel to seize illegal drugs, facilitate economic activity, and quickly and efficiently process asylum seekers— keeping our communities safe without sacrificing our humanity.”

• U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Tucson-area  Democrat, said constituents cited the wall in her recent one-on-one discussions with them  at a Congress on your Corner event. Every one had the same request to block efforts to build a new border wall, she said.

“They all said ‘Don’t cave on the wall,'” Kirkpatrick said.

She said her priority this week is to focus on technological solutions that help secure the border.

• U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, a Democrat whose district includes the northern portion of Tucson, said there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work in every section of our southern border.

“I have heard from Arizonans across the political spectrum and from communities throughout the district, and they want to see Congress act to protect our communities and our nation. We can do this in Arizona, and across the Southwest, by ensuring U.S. Customs and Border Protection can fill the backlog of open border patrol positions, implementing 21st century technology, and fixing our broken immigration system,” O’Halleran said.

• Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema did not respond to a request for comment.

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