GOP Arizona Mayor 'Impressed So Far' With Biden Admin's Handling of Border Crisis

The Republican mayor of Mesa, Arizona, praised the Biden administration's handling of the immigration crisis at the U.S. southern border, but criticized the federal government's ineptitude at providing funding under former President Donald Trump.

In a Sunday interview with CNN host Abby Phillip, Mayor John Giles said that President Joe Biden and his newly installed Cabinet leaders have been able to provide funding and "boots-on-the-ground" assistance for both the border crisis and COVID-19 pandemic. Giles touted the Biden pandemic relief package as well as the administration's response to the border crisis—both problems he described as "clearly ongoing."

John Giles, the GOP mayor of Mesa, AZ, on supporting Biden's Covid-19 relief bill, despite a majority of national Republicans being against it: "It's unfortunate that in a time of a crisis, you don't see people circling the wagons and setting partisanship aside." pic.twitter.com/OUlUHZdJdu

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"I am a veteran of the last border surge, so we are very nervous about the surge we see in refugees that are crossing the border," he said. "I've been impressed so far with this administration. I had an opportunity to talk with [Homeland Security] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorakas about a week ago and I told him the experience we had a couple years ago and he was very aware of it. So we've had boots-on-the-ground from the administration here in Phoenix and in Mesa and we've explained to them that there are a lot of compassionate people in our communities."

Giles complimented the border response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during Biden's first few weeks. He said "faith groups and NGOs are willing to partner with the federal government to respond" to the border crisis, but that comes on the heels of a Trump administration incapable of offering assistance.

"The cupboards are bare. Over the last two years they've been asked to shoulder this problem because the federal government really wasn't capable of doing it," Giles said.

Giles also turned his attention toward the coronavirus pandemic, describing the views of GOP Senators Rick Scott and Rand Paul as "diehard partisan." He characterized the latter's stance against masks as "pretty extreme...doesn't reflect rational thought."

The mayor also dismissed Scott's complaint on CNN last Thursday that state and local governments have already been sent $500 billion since last March and are overreacting to COVID-19's lingering effects. Mesa is set to receive $100 million in total.

"It's obvious to those of us here on the ground that the pandemic is not over," Giles told CNN Sunday. "We don't have money to send back to Washington as perhaps Senator Scott was suggesting, because we've spent it on providing COVID relief to the residents of our community...that this is some sort of overreaction? Clearly it is not."

Giles told KJZZ earlier this month: "Back in March, we got a sizable amount of money from the federal government and we're really proud in the way we spent it. It's been used to address food insecurity in our community, it's been used to help children get the devices they need to participate in online school, it's gone to keeping small businesses and restaurants in business and now it's being used to put shots in arms."

Giles was one of only a few Republican politicians across the country who advocated in favor of state and local funding included in Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package. That bill passed earlier this month with only Democratic Party support, prompting Florida's Scott to complain Thursday that local officials should "send back" funding they plan to "waste."

Newsweek reached out to Giles' office in Mesa for additional remarks Sunday afternoon.

mesa republican mayor john giles
The Republican mayor of Mesa, Arizona, praised the Biden administration's handling of the immigration crisis at the U.S. southern border, but criticized the federal government's ineptitude at providing funding under former President Donald Trump. Screenshot: YouTube | CNN