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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

U.S. senators visit Texas and Arizona borders with Mexico amid refugee crisis

With the tours to encompass borders in Texas and Arizona, John Cornyn (R-TX) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) led their Senate colleagues who gathered in response to the ongoing migrant crisis. The group spanned the nation and included James Lankford (R-OK), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Thom Tills (R-NC), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Chris Coons (D-CT). The Texas border came first in a tour conducted on Monday, Jan. 9.

The senators then took part in a roundtable discussion with El Paso city representatives, local nonprofit organizations, law-enforcement personnel and business owners, among other parties, KFOX reported. The gathering took place at the Emergency Migrant Operations Facility (EMOF), which is temporarily housed in the recently-closed Bassett Middle School in El Paso.

Alongside the senators, the other officials attending the roundtable discussion were the following: Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, Texas Military Department Adjunct General/Major General Thomas Suelzer and Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Joe Sanchez.

Specifically from El Paso were Lt. Jerome Washington of the El Paso Sheriff's Department, El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez and El Paso Deputy City Manager Mario D'Agostino as well as Mayor Oscar Leeser.

Rounding out the group were Borderplex Alliance Chief Executive Officer Jon Barela, American Red Cross Division Disaster State Relations Director Jessica Debalski, Border Servant Corps Executive Director Kari Lenander and Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson.

Following the discussion, the senators started a tour of the EMOF to observe the temporary provisions for migrant care. The remainder of the tour included visits to the El Paso Del Norte Port of Entry and the El Paso Central Processing Center. At night, the senators took a tour of the larger Texas-Mexico border with law-enforcement officials, and on Tuesday, Jan. 10, they checked out the Arizona-Mexico border.

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