Arizona Democrats say there’s no crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, despite President Donald Trump’s attempts this week to intensify support for a wall.
Democrats, including those who represent the districts that border with Mexico, accuse the president of creating a crisis and argue that the physical barrier he’s demanding is the wrong way to ensure border security. But some Arizona Republicans are prodding Trump to hold firm in the fight that sparked the shutdown, insisting that a border wall is needed to ensure Americans’ safety.
“This is a manufactured crisis. People in Southern Arizona know better,” Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick told Arizona Mirror in an interview Thursday.
Kirkpatrick assailed Trump for orchestrating a “political stunt” as the president visited the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday.
At the border in Texas, Trump pledged that the United States would build a “powerful steel barrier” and he criticized Democrats’ talking point that he was manufacturing a crisis.
“What’s manufactured is the use of the word ‘manufactured,’” he said, according to CNN.
Kirkpatrick, whose district in southeastern Arizona runs along the U.S.-Mexico border, said she spoke this week to volunteers in her district who walk through the desert looking for immigrants who might need help.
“They’ve been doing this for years, and they told me there’s no crisis… Everything is happening in an orderly way. They’re the boots on the ground and the eyes in the field for me,” she said.
Instead of the barrier Trump is pushing, “we would like state of the art ports of entry along the border that will further trade and commerce,” Kirkpatrick said. “In Southern Arizona, nobody wants a wall.”
She called instead for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would allow the Border Patrol to concentrate on criminal activity at the border.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Democrat and the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, represents the western part of Arizona’s border with Mexico.
He doesn’t want a wall, either.
“The only crisis at the border is the one that Trump’s disastrous immigration policies have created,” Grijalva told the Mirror in a statement.
“The fact that conversations about a national emergency are ongoing between the president and his associates over his vanity wall are nothing short of ridiculous. The only national emergency is the fact that the President of the United States is withholding the paychecks of hardworking federal workers in exchange for building a useless border wall.”
The government shutdown stands to become the longest in U.S. history on Saturday, surpassing a prolonged partisan spat during the Clinton administration in the mid 1990s.
Some congressional Republicans have suggested they’d be willing to fund the government and hold separate talks on border security, but others are urging the president to hold his ground.
They include Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, who penned an op-ed this week calling on Trump to “stand firm.” Biggs wrote, “America needs a border wall and he can deliver the wall.”
Biggs wrote in a separate op-ed this week, “In this time of stasis in Congress and a national security crisis at the border, the president should strongly consider declaring a national emergency on the border and temporarily diverting a small fraction of the national budget to build the border wall.”
Biggs announced Thursday that he’ll be co-chairman of the House Border Security Caucus along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas).
Arizona Republican Rep. David Schweikert slammed congressional Democrats this week in an interview with KTAR.
“Every member of the Democratic leadership has actually voted for the physical barriers and this type of security, so what’s changed?” Schweikert said.
“The Democratic Party is basically organized now that you must hate on this president with all your heart, all your soul and not give him a perceived victory, even if it’s actually good for the working men and women and the country.”
Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar is standing by Trump, too.
“Every moment Democrats refuse to secure our border and close our loopholes another American life is put in jeopardy,” he told the Mirror in a statement. “I’m proud America finally has a president who is willing to stand strong and fight to protect and defend Americans.”