Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona used the word “crisis” to describe the deteriorating situation on the country’s southern border when speaking to reporters last week.
Sinema, who has quickly emerged as one of a handful of Democratic lawmakers willing to break with the Biden administration on the border crisis and other issues, used the language when introducing legislation on April 20 alongside GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.
The Arizona Republic reported both lawmakers spoke about bipartisan legislation to control the crisis by targeting the number of illegal border crossings. That was when Sinema used the word Democrats and Biden administration officials have avoided since the border became the epicenter of one of the globe’s emerging humanitarian crises.
“We don’t address every challenge that our border is facing in this bill, but we know that this crisis at the border is not a Democratic or Republican problem,” the Democrat told reporters on a call.
“And as Sen. Cornyn and I both know firsthand, it’s not a new problem. It’s an American problem. And it’s one that we’ve been dealing with in our border states for decades,” she added.
Both senators represent border state constituencies where life is affected by the ongoing crisis.
The legislation proposed by Sinema and Cornyn would, according to The Republic, attempt to organize the chaotic way in which illegal migrants are apprehended and then detained.
“The legislation would open regional centers to more efficiently screen and process asylum seekers apprehended by the Border Patrol in hopes of easing the chaos currently taking place when larger numbers of asylum seekers are released in border communities with limited resources,” the outlet reported.
“The bill comes as the Biden administration is grappling with the situation — one that Arizona leaders from both parties have said is overwhelming the Border Patrol and border communities, as well as the nation’s immigration system.”
According to The Republic, the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act would streamline processing illegal immigrants and also potentially offer a pathway for two immigration bills to give citizenship for minors who were raised in the U.S., also known as “Dreamers,” if the Biden administration brings order to the chaotic border.
“It is the beginning of our work on immigration issues,” Cornyn told reporters. “But this is, we think, the most urgent, urgent need. … I would just add that if anybody has a better idea, we’re certainly open to that. But the problem is we’re not seeing a lot of people raise their hand and step up and say, ‘We want to try to fix this.’”
The legislation would seek to speed up the frequency with which some asylum cases are heard by judges.
Under the current system, people are streaming across the border and making unfounded cases that they are refugees, and they are well aware it can take years for their cases to be heard.
That system encourages more migrants to follow, as they, too, can expect to be released from Department of Homeland Security custody as they await legal hearings.
As of Thursday, there were reportedly 1.2 million asylum cases waiting to be heard by judges. Meanwhile, there seems to be no end in sight for those strained by the crippling crisis.
The proposed legislation from Sinema and Cornyn has bipartisan support in the House.
“I do anticipate that we will find shared agreement on the provisions of this bill and the goal in trying to relieve the pressure on our border communities in both Arizona and Texas,” Sinema said.
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