Sen. Mark Kelly Talks Security and Support for Border Communities Amid Challenges at the Southern Border

Kelly: “What happened in Gila Bend is unacceptable”

Today Arizona Senator Mark Kelly continued pressing the administration for a plan and necessary resources to handle the response on the southern border to ensure a secure, orderly and humane process at the border that doesn’t fall on local communities. Kelly already helped secure $110 million in the American Rescue Plan which will allow FEMA to reimburse localities and organizations assisting with the response at the border.

In Senator Kelly’s first months in office, Kelly has maintained a focus on border security and solutions to fixing the country’s broken immigration system. During his first state work period in January, Kelly visited the U.S.-Mexico border where he toured the port of entry in Douglas with Mayor Donald Huish. Kelly has continued to communicate with Arizona mayors, including Gila Bend Mayor Chris Riggs, and community members and stakeholders assisting on the border, connecting them to federal resources. 

See clips and highlights from Kelly’s continued focus on border communities: 

ABC 15: Kelly urges federal government to step up response at the border

Well, it is a challenge at the southern border. We have seen this before. I have been on the phone with the President multiple times about this, with the Secretary of Homeland Security, a number of times as well. It shouldn’t be on our border communities in Arizona to deal with this. It should be on the federal government. […]

But it’s going to be a continued effort. We can’t allow or permit or think it’s okay to drop off migrants in communities that don’t have the infrastructure to handle it.

FOX 10: Kelly “What happened in Gila Bend is unacceptable”

What happened in Gila Bend is unacceptable. I spoke to the Mayor [of Gila Bend] about this yesterday and you know this is the federal government’s responsibility, it’s not the responsibility of communities in Arizona, especially border communities. And it shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of Gila Bend.

[…] FEMA has the funding to do this. Senator Sinema and I made sure the resources were available — $110 million, that money is available for transportation and other costs and our border communities can be refunded these costs. But what happened in Gila Bend is unacceptable and we can’t allow it to happen again. […]

[…] Well, it’s frustrating for me and I think it’s frustrating for all Arizonans. And that’s why I’ve spoken to Secretary Mayorkas about this a number of times. I’ve spoken to the president a couple of times about this already. And I’ll continue to press the administration and the Department of Homeland Security to get the resources we need in Arizona to deal with the situation at our southern border. It’s unacceptable.

Newsweek: As Texas Lawmakers Bicker About the Border Crisis, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, Mark Kelly Quietly Get to Work

As Texas lawmakers continue to speak out about the situation at the southern border on social media and cable news outlets, elected officials in Arizona have quietly gotten to work for their constituents.

Speaking with mayors in the state’s border towns and other municipalities that have been impacted by the surge of migrants, officials were quick to thank Arizona Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly for their help at the federal level. […] 

[…] On February 4, Sinema and Kelly wrote a joint letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, stating their commitment to Biden’s new border policies.

“We are both committed to ensuring the border is secure and that migrants are treated fairly and humanely,” the senators wrote. “The President signed several Executive Orders on Feb. 2, 2021, to improve the asylum process. We support those efforts, but it is also critical to provide enough resources to ensure any changes at the border proceed efficiently and effectively. If DHS, local governments and stakeholders work together, we believe we can avoid the type of border crisis that occurred in the spring of 2019.”

[…] Douglas Mayor Donald Huish said Kelly, the state’s other senator, has also been instrumental in speaking on behalf of Arizonans as migrant facilities become increasingly crowded. He said Kelly even visited his city, a main port of entry in Arizona, before reports of a surge emerged.

“Senator Kelly has been quite involved too,” Huish told Newsweek. “He came down early on in January to visit and hear from the border crossing people exactly what was going on. The search didn’t commence then, but I think he had the foresight to want to know what’s going on and what are some of the weaknesses and challenges that we may experience”