Jennie Taer on July 29, 2022
- Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, who’s staring down a competitive re-election bid, touted his role in getting the Biden administration to fill certain gaps in the southern border wall despite having a track record of not supporting legislation bolstering the wall.
- The construction project, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Thursday, will fill gaps in Yuma, Arizona’s, border wall as historic numbers of migrants continue to surge across the southern border.
- “For too long, the Morelos Dam area has been an operational challenge for Border Patrol agents to properly secure the border and keep our communities safe,” Kelly said in a statement Thursday. “I’m glad that the Department of Homeland Security has listened to Arizona and is going to close these gaps. This is a step forward and I’ll keep working to ensure that Arizona has the tools needed for a secure and orderly process at the border including fencing and barriers where they make sense.”
Arizona Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly, who’s facing a tough re-election bid, touted his role in getting the Biden administration to fill gaps in the border wall despite having voted against legislation aiding the barrier in the past.
Kelly applauded the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to close the gaps after “months of coordination” between it, his office and the White House, according to a Thursday statement. But the former astronaut voted against border wall initiatives at least three times in 2021, including an amendment to prohibit the federal government’s cancellation of border wall contracts and two other amendments seeking to stop the cancellation of border wall contracts that had already received appropriated funding.
The Arizona Democrat has also changed his stance on other immigration-related issues, including Title 42, the public health policy used to quickly expel migrants during COVID-19, when the Biden administration announced it would end in April. Kelly voted against funding for Title 42 in August 2021 before urging the Biden administration in May to keep the policy in place until a “detailed plan” had been put together.
The senator’s office pointed the Daily Caller News Foundation to a statement in December 2021, where Kelly urged the Biden administration to “close the border gaps.”
DHS said the construction will help with safety issues in the region. The “Yuma Gap,” as it known, has had large holes at rocky points of the Moreles Dam where migrants, sometimes over 1,000 a day, have crossed in recent months.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas gave U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) permission to fill in four gaps near the dam, the agency announced Thursday.
Jim Lamon, who hopes to run against Kelly as the Republican nominee, told the DCNF that the Arizona Democrat is a “liar” on his border security stance.
“Mark Kelly is a bald-faced liar who is trying to deceive Arizonans about his support for Joe Biden’s open border policies. Kelly voted against border security funding three times last year alone, allowing millions of illegal immigrants to invade America. Kelly cares more about his allegiance to Joe Biden than he cares about protecting Arizonan families from deadly drugs, crime, and human trafficking,” Lamon said in a statement to the DCNF.
“Due to the proximity to the Morelos Dam and the swift moving Colorado River, this area presents safety and life hazard risks for migrants attempting to cross into the United States where there is a risk of drownings and injuries from falls,” DHS said in a statement, adding that the gaps pose a “life and safety risk” to authorities and first responders working in the area.
Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines confirmed to the DCNF Kelly’s role in urging Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to take the action.
“I am grateful to Senator Kelly for holding the Biden administration accountable to this commitment and finally getting this done. Our border communities want and deserve a safe and orderly border response,” Lines told the DCNF. “After I met with Mayorkas, I shared the commitment I received from him to complete the wall and I have been working with Senator Kelly to make sure that that commitment was fulfilled.”
The DCNF observed hundreds of migrants crossing through the gaps in Yuma in May from several countries, such as China, Georgia, India, Peru, Colombia and Nepal. Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls warned that the ongoing surge in crossings would “overtake” the city’s resources, in an interview at the time with the DCNF.
“What we’re dealing with is really just a sustainability issue,” Nicholls said.
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