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Minnesota, Wisconsin congressmen make security case at border with Mexico

Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minn., left, and Sheriff Mark Lamb at the U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona. (Pete Stauber Twitter)1 / 2
Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., at southern border in Arizona. (Sean Duffy Twitter)2 / 2

Two Upper Midwest congressmen visited the U.S. border with Mexico this week, tweeting out their party’s case for increased border security from the area around Yuma, Ariz.

Reps. Pete Stauber, R-Minn., and Sean Duffy, R-Wis., have been sharing video and tweets from what they say are problematic crossing areas along the Colorado River border with Mexico. The congressmen were escorted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

“This is where illegal immigration is happening,” Stauber said in a nighttime video he shared Thursday taken amid tall brush along the banks of the Colorado River. “Mexico is maybe 75-80 feet across the river. The agents said between 100 and 150 illegal immigrants come up this path every single day, 365 days a year.”

In a statement Friday, April 19, Stauber said his border tour allowed him to “cut through the noise” and see what those working to enforce the nation’s border laws must contend with on a daily basis.

“Witnessing their day-to-day work only further solidified my view that Congress must quickly provide them with the technology, infrastructure, and personnel necessary to completely secure the border and prevent illicit drugs, human traffickers and illegal immigrants from entering our country,” Stauber said.

In a daytime video along a similar stretch of the river, Duffy narrated the scene by saying, “There is no security. There is no barrier. It is just an easy hop, skip, jump or swim into the United States, so when Donald Trump says there is a crisis at the border, there is no doubt.”

Duffy concluded his video by saying, “This is insane. We need better solutions.”

Trump declared a border emergency in February aimed at funding the president’s long promised border wall with Mexico.

Stauber met with Trump briefly Monday during a tax day event in Burnsville, Minn., before going to the border. Stauber is a former Duluth police officer and first-term representative from the 8th Congressional District, serving northeastern Minnesota. Duffy serves the 7th District of northwestern Wisconsin.

Stauber posted a number of tweets throughout the week, including one image from a border patrol helicopter and another of him surveying a large pile of drugs confiscated at the border.

“Every year, thousands of pounds of illegal drugs come into the U.S. through the southern border,” Stauber tweeted. “During our briefing with the (Drug Enforcement Administration), we were shown confiscated fentanyl, enough to kill 11 million people. We must recognize that our porous borders are tied to the drug crisis.”

In one video, Stauber seemed to address the family separation issue which has resulted in an estimated 2,700 migrant children separated from families at the border — a policy that is no longer in place following legal challenges to the Trump administration last summer.

“Generally, (crossing) is with an adult and a child because they’re exploiting the children to get over here,” Stauber said from the banks of the river. “They’re exploiting our immigration policy.”

Stauber detailed the crossing — describing thigh-high water and look-outs on the Mexican side of the border waiting for quiet moments to usher immigrants across the river and into the United States.

Stauber said agents explained to him that families are taken into custody, processed and released into U.S. communities to await hearings in immigration court.

“Generally, they’re released within a couple of days after we process them,” Stauber said, describing a process known as “catch and release,” a policy deplored by Trump.

“This has been a fantastic experience,” Stauber concluded in one video.

Stauber was not available to respond to questions about his tour of the border. Neither Stauber nor Duffy specifically addressed using a wall at the border — only expressing a need for increased security.

“It is high time we secure our border,” Stauber tweeted. “I’m glad to be at the southern border this week to talk to border patrol officials about their experiences and learn more about what they need to completely secure our border.”