Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva denounced Republicans for speaking negatively about the United States-Mexico border in a series of public statements this week.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and a group of first-year Republicans visited the southern border in Arizona on Feb. 16 and discussed the impact of crime on the region.
Grijalva believes the national focus on the impact of illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and human trafficking across the border overshadows day-to-day community concerns.
“They do a huge disservice by slandering the whole border region, demonizing everything associated with the border, and with the borderlands, and in doing so, continue to create this stereotype about what the border is and isn’t,” Grijalva told The Hill, one of 11 national and local outlets he spoke with ahead of McCarthy’s trip.
Grijalva took office in 2003 and currently serves as the Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee and is a member of the Education and Labor Committee. The former community organizer is also part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Chair Emeritus of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
The congressman represents Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes 300 miles of the southern border.
He said that McCarthy should speak with residents of border communities – including Douglas, Nogales, Naco San Luis, and Somerton – about “their needs and their perception of the border.”
“I think then you begin to appreciate how complex it is and why it does require that everybody tries to define what security is and try to look for solutions,” said Grijalva.
Grijalva met with Douglas Mayor Donald Huish at the Raúl H. Castro Port of Entry on Feb. 16, where he discussed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which set aside $3.4 billion in federal funding for 26 major construction projects at ports of entry song the border.
“Border communities deserve action, not photo opportunities,” said Grijalva in a Feb. 15 statement. “My entire Congressional career, I have worked to increase funding for border communities to grow local economies and expand and modernize our ports of entry to upgrade technology and infrastructure for improved drug detection and smoother operations for growing cross-border commerce and tourism.”
McCarthy and the Republican lawmakers – Representatives Juan Ciscomani of Arizona, Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon, Jen Kiggans of Virginia, and Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin – went on an aerial tour of the border before speaking from a ranch in Cochise County.
While speaking to the media, McCarthy said the Sinaloa cartel is the county’s biggest employer because it hires large numbers of people from the community to assist with drug trafficking.
“These are terrorist organizations, call them as such and take the actions to stop them,” McCarthy said to President Joe Biden.
The trip follows an effort led by Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs to impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas for failing to secure the southern border.
In 2022, Border Patrol recorded 2.2 million encounters with immigrants at the national dividing line. At least 599,000 immigrants evaded American border forces.