Senators tour southern border and share concerns over lack of resources and current asylum process

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 7:43 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Two weeks after Title 42 ended, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) toured the DeConcini Port of Entry and the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales.

Senators Sinema and Lankford shared concerns about the border, including the types of people coming through and the tactics used by cartels to run their operations.

Sen. Lankford said he noticed the types of people coming in are completely different than what it used to be.

Instead of migrants coming from Central and South America, Sen. Lankford noted that now many migrants are coming from the Middle East, Asia and even Russia.

While every individual coming across the border for asylum is processed and vetted, Sen. Lankford says that it is not enough. He says fingerprint scanners aren’t gathering enough information about those coming through, which he says leads to dangerous individuals getting into the country.

“Some of the Latin American countries we have criminal exchanges from,” Lankford says. “But when we’re talking about individuals from Russia, we know almost nothing about those individuals.”

“Whether they’re here for asylum seeking or whether they’re here to do us harm, those numbers are dramatically increasing and there’s a very real concern on the national security risk.”

Sen. Sinema says the cartels are another major concern.

She says many of the customs and border patrol agents are assigned to process migrants and not enough are assigned to be in the field. Sinema says having agents occupied elsewhere allows cartels to smuggle drugs into the country.

Sinema also noted criminals are traveling within groups of migrants who are getting into the country between the ports of entry. She says many of those criminals escape into the United States while border patrol agents are busy rescuing those who legitimately need help.

“At one spot in the border we were at today, we saw a bottle partially filled on the ground, and a tiny onesie, made for an infant 6 months or younger,” Sinema said.

“So we know folks are bringing tender-aged children to this area. Border patrol is spending their time rescuing these individuals, and the bad guys are getting away.”

Both Senators Sinema and Lankford say reform is crucial to ensure a safe border. A faster screening process for migrants needing to get into the country was one idea Lankford shared.

Sinema also highlighted the need for more resources for CBP agents, such as more fencing along the open gaps of the border, and more surveillance technology.

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