Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Wednesday called for the Department of Homeland Security to send reinforcements to her state after a group of her fellow Democrats requested funding reductions to the agency in the midst of the U.S. border security crisis.
What are the details?
Sinema declared on Twitter, "Arizonans bear the brunt of Washington's failure to address our broken immigration system. We must secure the border with a comprehensive, smart, bipartisan approach — we're calling on @DHSgov to send additional resources and staff to AZ ports."
The freshman senator's language is starkly different from that of a group of her colleagues — including every Democratic presidential candidate in the upper chamber — who sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday asking for funding cuts to the already overwhelmed agency.
The Democrats' letter began:
As your Committee considers fiscal year 2020 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations, we ask that you reduce funding for the administration's reckless immigration enforcement and detention operations that are tearing families apart and harming the American economy. We also ask that you include language limiting the DHS Secretary's ability to transfer funds for the purpose of detaining immigrants. Furthermore, we urge you to reject President Trump's FY20 request for a significant increase in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel and detention beds, as well as his request to fund construction of his costly and ineffective border wall.
With the exception of California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, none of the 19 signatories of the letter hail from border states. On the contrary, a majority represent northern and northeastern states most buffered from the immigration influx.
The day after the request to cut DHS and ICE funding was sent, the mayor of Yuma, Arizona, declared a state of emergency for his city, saying "migrants [are] being released into the community faster than they are departing, and shelters and the staff to run them are at max capacity."
This isn't the first time Sinema has refused to tow the party line. She's taken heat for being one of only three Democratic senators who voted to confirm new Attorney General Bill Barr, joined Republicans in giving a thumbs down to the progressive "Green New Deal" while most of her colleagues voted "present," and has called "Medicare for All" proposals unrealistic.
A columnist for AZCentral declared in February, "Like John McCain before her, Sinema is a maverick."