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Sen. Sinema Details Immigration Proposal, Situation At Border

Former President George W. Bush says the country’s immigration system is broken, because Congress has failed to act.

In an interview with Fox News, Bush also said the U.S. can “both be welcoming and insistent on border enforcement.”

Congress is again working to try to solve the problems at the border; one proposal comes from Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). Among other provisions, the bill would aim to improve the process for asylum seekers and open up regional processing centers to better manage the flow of migrants coming across the border.

The Show spoke with Sen. Sinema both about the border and other issues, but started the conversation by asking how what we’re seeing now at the southern border compares with what we’ve seen in other instances where there has been a surge of migrants, in prior years, under past administrations.

Interview Highlights

How does what we're seeing now at the southern border compare with what we've seen in prior years under past administrations?

There are both similarities and differences to the past. In terms of similarities, we always see a surge of migrants who come to Arizona and Texas in the spring. And frankly, in the sense that Arizona is used to the federal government ignoring this crisis for years and years on end and a failure to address the problems regarding immigration in our country — that is familiar. What's different about this year is that we're seeing a surge of migrants approaching our southern border at a rate that we haven't seen in the last 20 years. ... One of the other differences that we've seen in recent years is the number of migrants who are approaching the border and turning themselves in to Customs and Border Patrol agents and asking for asylum. ... The reason why it's important is because the processing that the federal government is required to do when a migrant claims asylum is different than a migrant, perhaps, who might be captured or caught in the desert while trying to sneak through with a coyote, right? And that's why Sen. [John] Cornyn and I have introduced this legislation. The Bipartisan Border Solutions Act is designed to be a step to address our urgent needs. Now, it's not intended to solve every immigration-related challenge, but it does seek to address the current challenge of migrants who are approaching our border ports of entry, who need to be processed, who have certain legal rights articulated under federal law, and are coming in numbers that are unprecedented in the last two decades.

How confident are you that something can come out of Congress dealing with infrastructure and that it will actually meet at least some of the needs of the state?

I can tell you there is bipartisan interest in the goals of repairing and rebuilding our infrastructure in our country. But as you know, it's going to take time for legislation to develop. And so what eventually comes to a vote in the Senate might look similar, it might look different from what you're hearing from the White House. And so right now, I'm working in a bipartisan process to try and find areas of common ground that meet the needs of Arizonans. And while we certainly have needs in repairing our highways and our bridges and our roads, we also have needs like expanding broadband to the most rural parts of our state and ensuring that our water infrastructure and our grid is secure. And I expect to see some of that bipartisan discussion bear fruit and move forward in the coming weeks.

A number of Republicans, about three dozen or so in the House are supporting a Jan. 6 sort of commission like the 9/11 Commission.  Are there committees doing enough discussion, trying to figure out what happened, why and how to prevent something in the future, or should there be some sort of Jan. 6 commission?

What happened on Jan. 6 can in no way ever become the norm or the expected in our country. It was a violent day with violent individuals who sought to overturn and to stop the peaceful transfer of power from our government. So it's our job in Congress to understand the causes of the violence that day. We've got to prevent it from happening again, and we've got to begin to heal our country's divisions. Now, as you all are aware, five lives were lost that day. And we have to take a look and learn about what happened here to address this.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.