Two Democrat senators on Wednesday called on President Joe Biden to reimburse their state for sending National Guard personnel to the border to help deal with the immigration crisis.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, announced this week he is sending up to 250 Guardsmen to the border to deal with the surge in illegal immigrants attempting and successfully crossing into the United States. That will cost some $25 million.
“The situation in our border communities is just as bad—if not worse—than the coverage we’ve been seeing,” Ducey told a press conference. “It’s become evidently clear that Arizona needs the National Guard, and the White House is aware of that. Yet, to this day, there has been no action from this administration, and it doesn’t look like they are going to act any time soon. If this administration isn’t going to do anything, then we will.”
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) said they back the deployment in a letter to Biden.
While some resources are being provided through the recently-signed American Rescue Plan, “additional personnel are needed at the border to ensure our communities are protected, and migrants are treated fairly and humanely,” they wrote.
“This need for a secure and orderly process at the U.S. southern border should not fall on the state of Arizona or Arizona border communities,” they added, noting that some 500 Guard personnel are already deployed to southern Arizona border sectors.
“As such, we request you reimburse the state of Arizona for the deployment the Governor announced yesterday to support border security and continue to increase DHS personnel who can further assist with the processing of migrants, securing the border, and executing important security missions,” the senators asked Biden.
A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
The number of illegal border crossings has surged under Biden, leaping from 75,315 in January to 168,195 in March. The number of unaccompanied minors, or kids not accompanied by parents or other guardians, leapt nearly 13,000 to 18,663 from January to March.
The United States has struggled to contain the kids, opening over a dozen new facilities and asking foster parents to take them in.
Many Republicans have been critical of the Biden administration’s handling of border enforcement. Some Democrats have as well.
Sinema and Kelly in their letter told Biden, “There is a crisis at the southern border.”
Biden on Saturday for the first time acknowledged that the situation is a “crisis,” telling reporters that he planned to increase the number of refugees allowed into the country. Biden said that would help ease the crisis.
Asked about the characterization, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a briefing on Monday that Biden “does not feel that children coming to our border, seeking refuge from violence, economic hardships, and other dire circumstances is a crisis.”
“He does feel that the crisis in Central America, the dire circumstances that many are fleeing from … that that is a situation we need to spend our time, our effort on, and we need to address it if we’re going to prevent more of an influx of migrants from coming in years to come,” she added.
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