PHOTOS: Sen. Kelly Returns to the Southern Border with Group of Bipartisan Senators
This week, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly returned to the southern border – his eighth visit since he was first elected in 2020 – this time joining a bipartisan congressional delegation that included Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), John Cornyn (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), James Lankford (R-OK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Chris Murphy (D-CT). The bipartisan group’s two-day visit, which started in El Paso, Texas and concluded in Yuma, Arizona, focused on the impacts of the ongoing border crisis on border communities and law enforcement and examined potential solutions to better secure the border and fix the immigration system.
In El Paso, Kelly and his colleagues received an operational briefing from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of Defense’s Joint Task Force North on the situation on the ground and the federal government’s mission on the border. They then visited a U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) processing center facility where Kelly and his colleagues heard from migrants.
Kelly and the bipartisan group also met with National Guard soldiers deployed near the port of entry and heard about their efforts to secure the border. Kelly, the son of two police officers, rounded out the day with a National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day dinner where the Senators served meals to law enforcement officials at all levels and thanked them for their service. Kelly and the delegation also participated in a night-time patrol of the border with the National Border Patrol Council.
In Arizona, Kelly returned to Yuma where he led the group to the site of the barrier gaps near Morelos Dam. These gaps posed significant security and operational challenges for law enforcement but after successfully pushing the Biden administration to greenlight the closure of these barrier gaps along the Arizona-Mexico border, Kelly recently announced that CBP will begin construction this week to permanently close these gaps. Construction is expected to be completed this summer. Kelly previously visited the Morelos Dam site last May and August.
While in Yuma, Kelly and the group also received a briefing from Arizona National Guard Adjutant General Kerry Muehlenbeck about the National Guard’s mission on the border, including its counterdrug operations. The delegation also received an operational briefing from USBP Yuma Sector as well as the Office of Field Operations and San Luis Port of Entry Director on the situation on the border and challenges facing Border Patrol Agents and Port Officers. The briefing was followed by a tour of USBP’s soft-sided facility for temporarily holding migrants. The visit concluded with a roundtable discussion at the Regional Center for Border Health with law enforcement and local leaders and officials assisting with the humanitarian response.
Since taking office, Kelly has continued to break through partisan gridlock to deliver resources and support to border communities and law enforcement responding to the border crisis. Last year, Kelly worked to secure critical federal funds to improve border security, keep Arizona communities safe, and provide additional support for community organizations helping with the humanitarian response. Kelly previously introduced the Border Response Resilience Act which would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a plan to respond to increased migration at the border and provide $1 billion in contingency funds for the resources to carry out the response plan.