Arizona Dems ask DHS to appoint 'crisis coordinator' at border
May 6, 2019
In The News
House Democrats in Arizona are asking acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to appoint a "federal crisis coordinator" to aid coordination between federal, state and local agencies at the border.
In a letter to McAleenan, the five Democrats criticized the Trump administration's border security initiatives as setting up "a range of other catastrophic issues" related to border security and immigration.
Arizona Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego, Raúl Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, Greg Stanton and Tom O'Halleran wrote that the administration's measures to use Defense Department funds, build a wall, cut aid to Central America and threaten to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border "will create a range of other catastrophic issues and fail to address this humanitarian crisis in any way."
“This humanitarian crisis requires a humanitarian response," they wrote. "To that end, we believe that you should immediately increase communication and coordination among federal, state, local, and tribal governments as well as non-governmental stakeholders to promote the well-being and safety of migrant families, process asylum claims quicker, efficiently use federal and non-federal resources, and ensure that DHS [Department of Homeland Security] can meet its national security mission."
McAleenan replaced former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last month amid an agency-wide reshuffling of DHS leadership.
He also serves as Customs and Border Protection commissioner, a post he held in an acting capacity between January 2017 until March 2018, when he was confirmed by the Senate.
Before her resignation, Nielsen had appointed Manuel Padilla as head of the "Interagency Border Emergency Cell," which was supposed to improve interagency coordination.
The Arizona lawmakers called upon McAleenan to clarify Padilla's role, saying the border emergency cell appears "insufficient to adequately coordinate the response to the humanitarian crisis."
Border security agencies have been overwhelmed by increased migration of asylum-seekers from Central America's Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — most of whom are traveling as family units in large migrant caravans.
The lawmakers say the crisis has been compounded by a lack of coordination among the many local, state and federal jurisdictions involved in processing asylum claims at the border.
"This is a complex, multi-jurisdictional problem that requires a centralized command and coordination structure," they wrote.