House border crisis hearing to be held at busy Arizona sector
The House Natural Resources Committee traveled to the area for a field hearing in an area where crossings could include up to 800 single adults on any given day.
Watch the hearing in the player above starting at 4:30p/3:30C
The members of the Western Caucus visited the border wall in Cochise County, Arizona for a briefing from the Border Patrol about the border crisis and its impacts on the county. The area is one where agents frequently deal with gotaways and pursuits, dealing with two to 10 pursuits each day.
NewsNation went with the Cochise County criminal interdiction team to see what officials are dealing with as federal officials stopped a vehicle carrying 12 undocumented people from Mexico. Many appeared to be sleeping or pretending to sleep while agents were addressing them as they were crammed into the bed of the truck.
The driver of the vehicle was also in the U.S. illegally, originally coming from Mexico. It’s a trend agents have seen, with undocumented people smuggling others who are also crossing without permission.
The driver told NewsNation he was promised a thousand dollars for each person he successfully transported to Phoenix, Arizona. The driver and all 12 passengers were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents.
In addition to hearing from Border Patrol agents, lawmakers will be discussing the environmental impact of the border crisis. The area is unique because people can walk over from Mexico to get picked up by load drivers.
As people are walking, they often get hot or tired and will cut water lines or dump their belongings. The committee estimates each person leaves behind six to eight pounds of personal items, and some can cause damage when left behind.
Many pursuits also end up on private land after going through ranch fences, where the replacement costs fall to landowners. Ranchers and landowners also have to deal with items left by those walking on their land.
Public lands used for recreation are also impacted. In Lukeville, Arizona, there is a national monument and public park that became a public restroom for agents as thousands of migrants were left without facilities of any kind while they waited to be processed and transported by authorities.
Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-AZ, is leading the trip to his district to show other lawmakers what he is tasked with dealing with.
“[It’s] for members to see firsthand what’s happening,” Ciscomani told NewsNation. “This is not just about one issue. This is the environmental piece we’re going to see. You’re going to hear from the Democrat mayor of this town.”
Other environmental impacts came from a barrier of shipping containers first put up by Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, raising the ire of environmental groups. Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs took the barrier down as one of her first orders of business in office.