Kyrsten Sinema Calls on Biden to 'Actually Address' Border Crisis, Demands 'Bold Action'

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, called on President Joe Biden to "actually address" the crisis at the southern U.S. border with Mexico, demanding the administration take "bold action."

Republicans and some Democrats have repeatedly criticized Biden's response to the influx of largely Central American migrants who have been crossing the U.S.-Mexican border since the start of his administration in January. In March, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents encountered more than 172,000 migrants crossing the border—the highest monthly number in over 20 years. Although the number appears to have plateaued in April, according to preliminary data, apprehensions remain elevated.

"What I'm waiting for is the administration to take bold action to actually address these concerns," Sinema said during a Thursday interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM's The Mike Broomhead Show in Arizona.

"The reality is, this is a crisis and the federal government must do more to address this surge of migrants who are coming to the border with increasing numbers each year," the Democratic senator said. Sinema argued that her response to the situation would be the same regardless of the president and of her own political affiliation.

Kyrsten Sinema
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) called on President Joe Biden to "actually address" the border crisis in a Thursday interview. In this photo, the Democratic senator wears a protective mask while arriving at the U.S. Capitol on December 11 in Washington, D.C. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

"What's important is standing up for Arizona and the needs of our state and I'm going to use the same exact approach with the Biden administration that I did with the Trump administration, which is the same approach that I used with the Obama administration," the Democratic lawmaker said.

Although the number of migrants has surged thus far in 2021, the overall numbers have actually been on the decline over the past couple of decades. Back in 2000, the number of undocumented immigrants apprehended stood at more than 1.6 million for the year. It then dropped off sharply—although some years have seen an influx.

Under former President Barack Obama, the number of yearly apprehensions remained below 500,000, except for his first year in the White House in 2009. The numbers rose somewhat under former President Donald Trump—reaching nearly 860,000 apprehensions in 2019. Thus far, Biden is seeing an increase in the first few months of his administration, with some analysts predicting that 2021 could see the highest overall number of migrant apprehensions in decades.

Republicans have slammed Biden's policies, arguing that his administration is encouraging more migrants to come to the border. But the White House has repeatedly stressed that migrants and asylum seekers should not come to the border, while arguing that changes made under Biden are intended to ensure the immigration system is humane. Trump received significant national and international backlash for hardline immigration policies, including the separation of migrant children from their parents and guardians. Hundreds of those families remain separated to this day.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been tasked with spearheading the Biden administration's response to the border situation, has stressed the need for an "international" response. "I have spoken with world leaders from Canada, Finland, Ireland and Japan about partnering with us to help the Northern Triangle," Harris said Tuesday at the Washington Conference on the Americas.

Newsweek reached out to Sinema's press secretary for further comment.