Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) issued the following statement on the recent reports of illegal migrants being transferred from south Texas into Arizona:
“The images and videos of illegal migrants being released by Border Patrol into Arizona are disturbing. After years of struggling to secure the Arizona border with Mexico, it is unfathomable that this administration would transfer and then purposely release illegal migrants from Texas into Arizona. We are demanding additional information from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and have requested a hearing by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs to investigate this situation.
“What we have learned in the interim is that the situation is more complicated than that of a simple transfer of undocumented migrants from South Texas to Nogales.
“The reality is that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people from Central America – so-called Other than Mexicans (OTMs) – attempting to illegally enter the United States, in some cases fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. Because of difficulties in dealing with these Central American nations, it often takes weeks and sometimes months to deport these individuals back to their home countries. Adding to this complication is the fact that the overwhelming majority of those who were transferred to Nogales for processing were parents traveling with children or unaccompanied minors, who, according to federal law, must be reunited with a family member wherever possible.
“The dramatic increase in the number of people attempting to cross our southern border illegally monthly – from 28,672 in January 2014 to 60,703 in May 2014 – has overwhelmed the resources of the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Compounding this problems is the number of unaccompanied minors and migrants attempting to enter from Central America.
“To be clear: These individuals being apprehended by the Border Patrol are not eligible to remain in this country legally and, in fact, would not qualify for legal status or a chance to earn citizenship in the immigration reform legislation passed by the Senate last year. In addition, that legislation would have provided $4.5 billion for technology for cameras, sensors, drones, and towers as recommended by the Border Patrol; 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents; 350 miles of additional fencing, and tripled the funding for Operation Streamline for mandatory prosecutions of illegal border crossers.
“For too long this administration has been preoccupied with telling Americans the border is as secure as ever. These events prove it is not.”