By Heidi Alagha
EL PASO, Texas (KGUN) — A bipartisan group of senators from Arizona, Texas, and elsewhere are working together to tackle the crisis at the border.
They were in El Paso, Texas Monday at Bassett Middle School—which has actually been transformed into an emergency housing facility for migrants—to meet with local officials.
Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema were in attendance for the round table discussion.
“I’ve been able to visit Texas a number of times in recent years to see how broken the system is here, as it is in my home state of Arizona,” Sinema said addressing a crowd at a news conference.
Senator Sinema has been on the forefront of tackling issues at the border, and told KGUN 9 about organizing the visit to the Southwest.
“I said I want to bring colleagues to the border especially those who don’t live near a border region so they can see first hand what’s actually going on,” Sinema said.
Working alongside Texas Senator John Cornyn, the roundtable was an opportunity to hear from officials who have been dealing with the migrant crisis first hand.
“We have hundreds of people sleeping on the streets. We have hundreds of people sleeping at the airport,” said El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser.
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser addresses a group of Senators on border issues.
For Leeser, the issue goes far beyond just one visit.
“They can come here and spend a day or two but they don’t really see what I’ve seen,” said Leeser. “I go out everyday and I take pictures.”
He’s spent the last few months documenting the problem.
Pictures he shared with the senators at the round table and with President Joe Biden during his visit on Sunday.
“It’s important for them to see we have. A broken immigration system and it needs to be fixed,” said Leeser. “We need to continue having funding but again that just a band-aid.”
The leaders all say there’s no easy fix, and the border will require more than just funding.
“The solution can’t just be a build a wall or build more shelters for migrants. We actually have to change the laws and enforce the laws more effectively,” said Sinema.
Senator Kelly says the Department of Homeland Security is moving forward with what could be a longer-term solution for one part of the border.
“More resources for Border Patrol, for CBP [Customs and Border Protection]. We need to upgrade our ports of entry,” saidKelly.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in Nogales, in Douglas, in Yuma,” Kelly continued. “We’re going to visit the gaps in the Morelos Dam when I went down there Arizonans told me we should close these gaps. We are doing that this week.”
Senators Kelly and Sinema head to Yuma Tuesday to continue touring the border.