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Gang of Eight Tours Arizona Border

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Gang of Eight Tours Arizona Border

Gang of Eight Tours Arizona Border

Photo by Michel Marizco

Senators John McCain, Chuck Schumer, Michael Bennet and Jeff Flake toured the Arizona-Mexico border on Wednesday.

NOGALES, Ariz. -- A group of senators drafting an immigration reform bill toured the Arizona border Wednesday morning. The senators make up half the so-called Gang of Eight. They said they expect to have their bill ready for the public once Congress returns April 8.

Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake accompanied Michael Bennet of Colorado and New York’s Chuck Schumer to the border.

Schumer said the tour taught him that manpower is adequate on the border but technology is not.

"Sen. McCain and Sen. Flake had impressed upon our group from the beginning the need to do something further on the border and this trip certainly strengthens that view,” Schumer said.

Schumer echoed what McCain has said since before proposing an immigration reform bill. He and other Republicans have long said the border is far from secure.

On Wednesday’s tour, the senators observed drone surveillance planes and checkpoints as well as forward operating bases. McCain said the group also saw a woman scale the border fence but that Border Patrol agents arrested her. He said the ideal level of security is to keep the border under a constant state of surveillance.

"And by the way, there are countries in this world with not as big a border who've been able to accomplish that," McCain added.

None of the senators would say what metric they’ll be satisfied with to prove the border is secure. They warned that it will be costly but that border security will eventually pay for itself by charging fees for visas, especially skilled labor visas.

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.