Arizona senator Mark Kelly said that "we currently don't have a plan" on the border crisis, a tacit swipe at the Biden administration from a swing-state Democrat.
Kelly addressed the "tragic" conditions at migrant processing centers across the southern border, where hundreds of unaccompanied children are packed into plastic "pods." Unlike top Biden administration officials, the Democratic senator called the border surge a "crisis" that the federal government is not currently prepared to address.
"This is a tragic situation, it's a challenging one, it's a crisis," Kelly said during a Thursday interview with Fox's Phoenix affiliate. "And it's up to the federal government to provide the resources and the border security we need, and any plan. We currently don't have a plan."
The White House did not return a request for comment.
Kelly toured a portion of Arizona's southern border in January. Weeks later, the Democrat stressed the need to "provide enough resources" to ensure that "the border is secure and that migrants are treated fairly and humanely" in a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. Unlike most in his party, Kelly regularly refers to the swell in migrants as a "crisis"—a label that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have so far rejected.
Biden addressed the border situation during his Thursday press conference. He portrayed the surge as normal and cyclical, contending that the trend occurs "every single solitary year." Just days ago, however, Mayorkas revealed the United States is "on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years." Nearly 5,000 migrant children were in U.S. custody as of March 23, according to government officials.
Biden has also faced bipartisan criticism over his administration's lack of media access at southern border facilities. Government officials for weeks rebuffed requests from reporters to tour the overcrowded detention centers. Biden allowed one news camera into a Carrizo Springs, Texas, shelter on Wednesday, but the facility offers bunk beds and educational services as opposed to pods and silver film blankets. One day later, the president committed to "transparency" at the border but said that reporters would only be allowed to tour the congested facilities once he's "in a position to implement what we're doing right now."
Biden called on Harris to lead the administration's response to the border crisis Wednesday. The vice president has emphasized the need to give Americans a "closeup look" at border facilities in the past. She thanked the "free and independent press" for showing the public "what's really happening" at the border "as opposed to the rhetoric coming out of" the Trump administration in 2018. Harris has yet to address the current lack of media access at southern border facilities.