Democratic senator Mark Kelly (Ariz.) in an interview Monday said his party is "not even close" to understanding the complexities of the migrant crisis at the southern border.
"It didn’t take me long to realize that there are a lot of Democrats who don’t understand our southern border and a lot of Republicans who just want to talk about it," Kelly told the Washington Post. "And I continue to talk to my Republican colleagues about how we have to do more. We have to do more in border security."
Kelly's comments come as the Biden administration has overseen an all-time high of 2.4 million border apprehensions during fiscal year 2022. More than one million of the apprehensions resulted in expulsions under Title 42, a rule that gives officials the power to quickly expel migrants. A federal judge struck down the policy last week but delayed its expiration for five weeks. Fifteen attorneys general filed a motion Monday to stop its termination.
"Because invalidation of the Title 42 Orders will directly harm the States, they now seek to intervene to offer a defense of the Title 42 policy so that its validity can be resolved on the merits, rather than through strategic surrender," the AGs said.
Kelly has faced criticism in recent years from law enforcement officials over immigration, with National Border Patrol Council president Brandon Judd and Arizona Police Association president Justin Harris alleging Kelly has been "completely absent" on border security.
"It appears that he'll give lip service to a topic, but then when push comes to shove, he's right in step with his party," Judd told the Washington Free Beacon in November 2021. "And we know that as far as his party goes with border security, they're missing in action."
Living United for Change, a group that protests Immigration and Customs Enforcement and called for the defunding of the Phoenix Police Department, spent around $350,000 to help Kelly defeat Republican Blake Masters in this month's midterm election.
Along with improving security, during the interview Kelly pointed to the "Dreamer" program and visa systems as areas for reform.
"Our country would really benefit from stronger border security and comprehensive immigration reform," the senator said.