Senators Cornyn and Simena to introduce bipartisan bill on migrant surge

(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) will introduce a bipartisan bill today to target the migrant surge on the southern border. Bipartisanship is rare in Washington but the crisis on the southern border may be one area where both sides of the aisle can come together.

Sinema is a different kind of Democrat in the Senate. She goes her own way and often sides with Republicans in how she votes. She is a rare moderate Democrat when most of the party is more interested in lurching to the far left. So, she is probably a good person to lead the Democrat response to the border crisis. Few Democrats have spoken up against what the Biden administration is doing – mostly denying there is a crisis – and none of the Democrats in the Senate have done so. On Wednesday night, Senator Cornyn’s office tweeted out the news that the bipartisan bill to “address the surge of migrants along our southern border” will be introduced. It is described as “a serious, thoughtful solution from two people who know the border.”

The bill, according to a statement from Cornyn’s office, seeks to improve capacity for surges and resolve asylum claims in a “timely manner.”

It also would seek to deter those unlikely to be approved for asylum from traveling to the United States and “protect unaccompanied migrant children.”

Last month Cornyn and Sinema sent a letter to Biden asking him to use his “full authorities” in response to the surge of migrants flooding the southern border. Immediate action was requested in two areas – resources and facilities along the border and improving the asylum process.

“It is critical that our nation take aggressive steps to secure our border, protect our communities and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely,” Cornyn and Sinema wrote, according to a Sinema press release. “We pledge to work with our Congressional colleagues to develop bipartisan and commonsense responses to the surge of migrants at the border, and hope to collaborate with you, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and the rest of your Administration to tackle this challenge.”

You would think that Biden would be more proactive in border security and working to stop the still increasing surge of migrants at the border. His handling of the crisis and immigration matters, in general, is the one area in which his poll numbers are really low. Look for immigration to be a big topic in the mid-term elections, especially in Republican campaigns. GOP politicians see this as a huge weak spot for Democrats.

Quinnipiac University poll found that only 29 percent of Americans approve of how Biden is handling the situation at the border, while 55 percent disapprove.

Forty-eight percent also told Pew that they view illegal immigration as a “very big problem,” up 20 points from a year ago.

Since Biden has been so slow in acting to secure the border, border state governors have to be more aggressive in protecting their states. Governor Abbott deployed 500 Texas National Guard to the border in March and yesterday Governor Ducey announced he will send Arizona National Guard to the state’s southern border. Ducey also declared a state of emergency in” four border counties — Cochise, Pima, Santa Cruz and Yuma — as well as in Maricopa and Pinal.”

“The U.S. Border Patrol is overwhelmed. Local law enforcement and mayors are calling out for help,” Ducey said in a video outlining his rationale.

“Citizens in our border communities are concerned for their safety, and nonprofits, left to pick up the pieces of broken federal policies, are strained … and yet we still haven’t received an adequate response from the (Joe) Biden administration.”

Ducey blasted Biden and Kamala Harris last month for their lack of action on the southern border, not even bothering to come and see the crisis with their own eyes.

The governor for weeks has held Biden solely responsible for the migrant surge, pointing to the Democrat’s decision to reverse a series of aggressive immigration policies implemented by his predecessor.

During a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border last month, Ducey blasted Biden and his administration for being “totally divorced from the reality on the ground.”

Upon his return, he slammed Vice President Kamala Harris as the “worst possible choice” to lead the administration’s response and requested federal funding to dispatch National Guard troops.

That money apparently did not come through.

The troops Ducey will send to his state’s border will likely deploy in a few days. The state will provide up to $25 million for the deployment and will involve up to 250 Guard members, according to Ducey’s office. The Guard will be tasked with supporting local law enforcement, installing and maintaining security cameras, monitoring and collecting camera data, and providing analysis of satellite imagery of the border. They may also assist with medical operations in detention centers.

In a separate action on Wednesday, Cornyn called for a federal investigation into allegations of child abuse at a migrant facility in San Antonio. Texas Governor Abbott launched a state investigation into the claims earlier this month.

Both of Arizona’s Democrat senators support Governor Ducey’s move to deploy the National Guard to the southern border.

“I welcome the Governor’s action to provide logistical support to Arizona communities, and look forward to hearing more details about how the National Guard will assist,” Sinema said in a statement. “I will continue working closely with Arizona leaders and organizations to support our border communities, secure the border, prevent the spread of COVID-19, and treat all migrants and unaccompanied children fairly and humanely.”

Governor Ducey made the same observations that have been made by Governor Abbott – the border crisis is as bad as it has ever been. The border patrol is overwhelmed, as are local mayors and law enforcement. All are crying out for help. Residents in border towns are concerned about personal safety for themselves and their families and there is a public health threat from COVID-19. Whether or not any of these actions will move the needle with the Biden administration and bring more resources to the border is the question.